Monday, June 22, 2009

American Indian Wealth.

Daughter of American Horse. 1908 by Edward S. Curtis.


What would you say that this woman's jewelry was worth?


The most that I have been able to find out about this woman is that she was the "Daughter of American Horse". One would think that such a beautiful woman would have a name of her own wouldn't one?


This is going to be an open thread, and I will add to the front page as I research, but I was so intrigued by the amount of those rare and expensive little shells that I had a real "wow moment". I would bet those shells, and that beauty, caused a few Braves to shake in their moccasins.





Hupa Indian Woman. 1923 by Edward S. Curtis.

Again I have no information about this woman, other than who took the photo. It is amazing to me that the photographers back then thought that their "Art" was more important than the people that they were photographing. I believe that this woman would have an amazing story.



Were baskets considered to be "Wealth" to The Hupa? They would seem like they should be. Or, were they simply utilitarian value like the early American quilt?



Chief American Horse. Oglala Sioux, born 1830
Chief America Horse was known for his wit and shrewdness. He was conciliatory toward the Whiteman because he understood how badly outnumbered that the Indian people were.

After stopping his men from killing a small group of Whitemen, he said:
“Stop, men, stop and think before you act! Will you murder your children, your women, yes, destroy your nation today?”
You are brave today because you outnumber the Whiteman, but what will you do tomorrow? There are railroads on all sides of you. The soldiers will pour in from every direction by thousands and surround you. You have little food and ammunition. It will be the end of your people, Stop, I say, Stop now!”


Several places that I Researched made note of the fact that he had beautiful daughters. Note the Sea Shell jewelry. It must have been quite valuable that far inland.

The vests made of bone were worn by Both Chiefs and Warriors. They must not have been valuable, other than their ability to protect them in battle.



This necklace is strung with dentalia shells and beads. Dentalium (Antalis pretiosum) are variously sized ocean mollusks that resemble miniature elephant tusks and may grow up to several inches in length. They first appear in the archaeological record of Pacific Northwest coastal communities around 4400 B.C.E., but in small numbers. After 1800 B.C.E., dentalium become more commonly found—particularly among the graves of high status individuals. Archaeologists credit their increased appearance during that time to a corresponding intensification of Native economies—directly related to the stabilization of ocean levels following the end of the Pleistocene ice age. As more complex trade relations developed along the Northwest Coast, dentalium—also known as hiixwa or haqua—became a highly prized mark of wealth and status, typically displayed as ornaments in clothing and headdresses, used as jewely, and even used in some places as a type of currency.

Most dentalium entering the indigenous trade network of the Pacific Northwest originated off the coast of Vancouver Island. Chicklisaht, Kyuquot, and Ehattesaht communities of the Northern Nuu-chah-nulth, inhabitants of the west coast of the island, were the primary source of the shells. However, the Kwakwaka’wakw of Quatsino Sound and Cape Scott, on the eastern coast, were also large producers. Harvesters would work from their ocean-going canoes, extending specially-constructed long poles to the dentalium beds on the ocean floor. At the end of the long poles were large brushes that were pushed into the mollusk beds, ensnaring dentalium in the process.

Those dentalium destined for the Columbia River trade network found their way south through the hands of the Makah, inhabiting the northwest region of the Olympic Peninsula, and then further south to the Chinookans on the lower Columbia River. Chinookan traders, in turn, bartered with Sahaptin-speaking peoples from the Interior, and Kalapuyans of the Willamette River Valley. Each summer, dentalium were also traded at The Dalles/Celilo trade-mart, the largest in the Pacific Northwest. From there, dentalium made their way east as far as the Great Plains.

This section of the post is about wealth and puberty baskets.

A young Indian girl was given a set of four baskets at her first menstrual cycle. One was to bathe in, one was for water, one was for food, and a small one was a drinking cup. She was put in her own house and not allowed to touch food. Someone else had to feed her. The puberty ritual is not performed for all girl just the daughters of the wealthy. It must have been like our modern day debutant ball.

The whole story is in the section below. You will want to scroll through the other stuff, but the local Puberty basket is on page 197. I pasted the whole book in here for you to gaze through. It was too complicated to cut and paste just one page so I put the whole thing here.

Don't Be impatient! It takes awhile to load. Scoll to the top and start back down as it loads, that'll give you something to do.

(I had to delete this feature on my blog because it was dominating slow computers and ISP's, but for you speedy guys, I left the link and the Complete URL, below. Sorry about the abreviations, I usually don't do that)


Puberty baskets

http://books.google.com/books?id=HZZaxx4lzj8C&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq=american+indian+puberty+basket&source=bl&ots=HPqTIjqAoq&sig=wcadOSwVQ1rYbbnt74lH8rGJjDw&hl=en&ei=GZxBStXeDpGyswP57eHsBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Without actually having the facts, I believe most baskets were utilitarian by nature. The necklaces and dresses and headgear, I believe, were considered the treasured items, along with the ceremonial pieces like Albino White Deer Skins and woodpecker hides.

My Uncle had an elder Native American woman who lived on the lower Klamath River make a baby basket for me in 1960. (I still have it) Our family being non-Indian didn't seem to make a difference to her. She knew our family quite well. She lived at Johnson, downriver from Pecwan. We believed she was from Yurok descent, but came to find out she must have been of Hupa descent as her basket has all the earmarkings of a Hupa basket rather than a Yurok basket. The Trees of Mystery have a wonderful collection as does the Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka.

The women were exceptional craftspersons and could make a watertight basket for cooking out of beargrass, willows and ferns. I was involved in a film documentary on the local basketmakers and one of the women interviewed wondered how the first woman to make a basket realized you had to strip the woodwardia ferns by pounding them and taking the inner fiber out. Amazing. Also, I love the notion of making a mistake in the design of the basket as to let the Great Spirit know you are not perfect.

-Ross Rowley

Omr said...

Thanks Ross! here is a an early 20th century picture of a collection of Hupa baskets.

Here is the UC photo collection link!

Hopefully you will draw a pro historian to the blog to answer your questions. In the meantime, here is a description of the Hupa womens' dance dresses:
"Women wore a skirt of deerskin reaching to the knees, with a long, thick fringe hanging below and a short fringe at the waist. When soiled it was washed with the soap plant. At the opening of the skirt in front an apron was worn underneath. The skirts worn in dances were ornamented with strings of shell beads, pieces of abalone shell, and Hakes of obsidian fastened to the upper and of shells of pine nuts inserted at intervals in the lower fringe. The apron for common wear was made of long strands of pine-nut shells and braided leaves attached to a belt. The dance aprons had strands of shells and pendants cut from abalone shells."

Omr said...

32 more Yurok, Hupa, and Karok baskets.

Omr said...

Ross you are more of a pro than I- poor choice of words from an amateur.

Omr said...

"Generally the most prized dentalium shell was a large on two and one half inches long or longer. A small boat cost one strand of dentalium shells (a strand was about the length of a man's arm)" :from here.

"The American Indians of the Pacific Northwest initiated the use of dentalium as a standard of monetary exchange and a sign of wealth. These shells are most attributed to the tribes of Northern California ( Hupa, Tolowas, Yurok, Wiyot, Karuk, Wintu) because their societies had a high cultural value on wealth. However, they got most of their dentalium shells from more Northern Indians (as far away as Vancouver)."

Omr said...

"But it wasn't just Indians of the pacific coast that used dentalium shells as money – the practice spread as far as the Dakota's. In fact, the Plains tribes wanted these shells for currency also. The demand in that area was so strong that traders imported the Atlantic species (Dentalium entale stimpsoni) from New England and from Europe (Dentalium Vulgare)."
same link as before

According to that source those 1st picture Oglala Sioux dentallium are more than likely east coast shells.

Anonymous said...

SHELLS/MONEY are a medium of exchange.we learned this in MR. FLORAS class.

omr said...

Good "Hupa basket" site.

Ben said...

My now departed friend, Gray Cloud Jaxon, told me the Hupa woman was his grandmother (great grandmother?). I don't know her name but I'm sure it is well known in the Hoopa Valley. Gray said she was a doctor of great repute. Many anthropologists also failed to name their informants or only mentioned their "tribe". Indian names were considered powerful and rarely used in conversation. Speaking the name of a dead person was offensive and cause for compensation by Indian Law, therefore the subjects of the photos may have been unwilling to reveal their names.

Ernie Branscomb said...

It seems that my internet is back on. According to my contact at 101 Netlink, the outage was cause by a severed fiber south of us.

Ben, I had forgotten that the Indian culture doesn’t use the name of the dead, but I know that you are right. Some natives didn’t want to have their photo taken either, because they feared that the photo was capturing their spirits. (souls)I used to talk to Gray Cloud when he would wait for the Greyhound Bus behind my store. I never really knew how to take him. He was deep into politics and had a tendency to move the conversation toward his pet peeve of the moment. Are we allowed to use his name now that he is dead? I hope so, I really don't mean to disrespect him. In the Whiteman’s culture, we feel it is honoring the dead to remember them, and invoke their name. In so many ways our cultures were so different.

I see OMR is busy researching again. I’ve read part of it, and it is very interesting. I did notice a baby basket in the basket photos. I wonder how close the basket is to that of Ross Rowley’s.

omr said...

Just last week heard a woman of one of those northern tribes describe how each basket was made for the child before the child was born. This one basketmaker had the gift of making wider shorter baskets for those shaped babies, and longer baskets for taller thinner babies with complete accuracy through several generations.

omr said...

Ben, you mentioned that she was a doctor. Some might not know that the Hupa had only female doctor/shamanesses.
"A shaman was considered the holy person of a tribe, equipped with magical and/or spiritual powers to heal the sick. Shamans were revered for their wisdom and powers. (Study the female shaman photo above.) According to the famous Native American photographer, Edward S. Curtis: "Many Hupa shamans were women, and among their neighbors, the Yurok and the Karok, as well as among the more distant Wiyot on the coast, male shamans were rare. Hupa shamans acquired the power to cure disease by dreaming and dancing. They were credited with the ability to inflict mysterious sickness by sorcery, and only they could relieve the victim of such magic."
Here are a couple of different Hupa shamanesses, and a link for a good book on a Karok medecine woman.

Anonymous said...

Only females is not accurate. sorry. Many shamans were females.

(Once again, demonstrating my imperfection to Great Spirit and the whole blogosphere.)

Ernie Branscomb said...

Note the tatooing around the chins of all of the Indian women in OMR's links.

suzy blah blah said...

I love the notion of making a mistake in the design of the basket as to let the Great Spirit know you are not perfect.

Suzy likes that to, it shwos that not evreybody is entiredly purfict and that youd better watch out cuz teh GRaet Spirit knows if yuove been good or bad, so be good fur goodness sake... except it doisnt really raelly matter cuz Teh Griat Spiret gnows yr knot perfuckd anyway too begin with, rite? right.

put yr truobles in a basket with a hole in it.

oxo
s

omr said...

thars good wealth in that last line suz....thank you!

Omr said...

Somewhere last night I read that an arms length strand of the dentallium was worth $20 in the mid-1800's. The carved ones were worth more and are shown in these pictures of woven purses.

Yahoo speaks said...

Omr.. the Nez Perce were known as traders of dentalium (note spelling) to the tribes to the east. Those dentalium may not be from the east coast, there was trade from both coasts.

Ben said...

National Geographic once had an article on Pacific Northwest Indians in which they revealed how dentalium were obtained. A broom like devuce was lowered from a canoe and several extensions were lashed on until the floor of the inlet was reached. The broom was then punched down into the mud and the shells became wedged between the sticks. Incised shells are sought after and there are currently artisans making them. In OMR's picture the shells are stores in an elk horn purse, beautifly decorated. Artists such as Porty Blake, of Hoopa, currently produce these purses as well as elkhorn spoons and full sized canoes. Native culture is alive and well on the Klamath and Trinity. The finer dentalium necklaces often have a deerskin band at the back of the neck. Abalone, olivella shells and bull pine seeds are also part of the regalia.

Ben said...

Hupa is the name of the tribe and Hoopa is the valley... You probably all knew that, it still confuses me sometimes.

omr said...

They hollow out the elkhorn? Thanks for all that accurate info Ben.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Just Like always, things drive me crazy if I don't know how they work. So, as you might imagine, I wondered how they made the holes in their beads and shells. I set out to research it, and here is what I found. The Indian people were drilling holes as small as 1/32" up to 10,000 years ago. They claim that their holes were every bit as accurate as could be made by a modern power drill.

I'm not sure that I understand how they did it, and I am sure that the people that tried to explain it did either. So what I'm going to do is give you this link, and you can read it yourself.

Ben, You can say the Hoopa people, and it would be correct, the same as you can say the Garberville people. But it is the "Hupa" that live there, just like it's the "Hippies" that live here.

Omr said...

Here is a picture of a 6" pre-1900 elk horn purse...to answer my own question.

Found a an article titledThe Arts of Everyday Life about some other of Northern California's Indian artists.

Omr said...

Ernie...that was a good drilling site, amazing technology!

Omr said...

This discussion of wealth confirms all that Ross said in his opening remarks.

Omr said...

"b. Stone blades displayed during dances. Some blades were famous. Many were named.

i. Black obsidian was the most common material, red obsidian was considerably more valuable and white flint was the most valuable of all.

ii. The longer blades were more valuable. At twenty or so inches in length the value more than doubles."

That is a long blade. Mr. Kirby has a story that would fit here.

Omr said...

I must admit I have looked at those plains Indian vests for decades and thought they were some kind of bone. Never got that they were scaphopoda from the coasts.
I don't think I had given a thought to Indian tribes stratified by wealth, hence status.
Another sign of my early romanticizing the subject.
Thanks Ernie for picking the topic, I have learned lots.

Robin Shelley said...

This is an interesting post, Ernie, & some great pictures of some very handsome people. Thanks.

This has nothing to do with it, but I just saw on the weather that it is 82 degrees in Garberville right now at 6:39 p.m. It is a cool & foggy 61 here on the Oregon coast.

I'll be passing through your fine town sometime in the next few days. I'll honk on the way by!

Anonymous said...

ROBIN,ya better stop and eat at the EEL RIVER CAFE,its just a little west of the RADIO SHACK STORE!

Ernie Branscomb said...

"I have looked at those plains Indian vests for decades and thought they were some kind of bone"

Actually you would have been right. The breast plate, as it is called, is made out of "hair pipe" which is a bone bead made out of buffalo bone or buffalo horn.

breast plate 1

breast plate 2

breast plate 3

breast plate 4"

Robin, you should stop by the store and tell them to call me. I'm usually close by. I'd like to meet you. Or maybe you could say hi to my wife Janis if I'm too far away.

I apologize in advance if I'm working under a house or something. Sometimes I get pretty dirty, but I clean up good. I think that I scared Ross Sherburn off when he visited. I think that I might have been crawling under somthing pretty dirty that day. The great thing about it is you can dress down and still feel well dressed.

Go to Garberville, and Radio Shack is right there in the middle, right behind the Eel River Cafe.

ROSS SHERBURN said...

ERNIE,you didn't scare me off one bit!i'm just getting too lazy to drive that far anymore!i still want to get over that way and see how that new bridge is coming along.the bridge near confusion hill,that is! YEAH!and i took the BAIT,from you,ALSO!!!! LOL!!!

suzy blah blah said...

But it is the "Hupa" that live there, just like it's the "Hippies" that live here.

Good point, and so then the bronz statue we are proposing for the Gville square maybe shouldnt be of Ernie after all, or of an indian chief, but rather it should be of --a hippei, i spose... with his foot on a duffle bag full of weed, i spose... No Suzy won't say who, LOL!

happy summer equinox peeps, ommmm,
s

Anonymous said...

Just so you folks from the Eel River Tributaries might understand, the Hupa people had a saying when I was growing up....Hippies are the living proof that Indians fornicated with the buffalo. I swear to God, the elder Hupa men would cackle with glee when telling this.

-Ross Rowley

omr said...

I love that story Ross, I can just see that amused face.
As a hippie dippy I am mightily confused (as I have demonstrated repeatedly on this thread) because we have also been told on this blog that we had Bigfoot and Indians as our lineage. This is so confusing.

spyrock said...

i've heard a few indians talk and i don't remember them ever using the word fornicated. that's a baptist word isn't. if it sounds like a duck it probably is a duck.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Gee, I learn something new every day!

Ducks fornicate too?

(These one liners are probably zinging right over some peoples heads>)

Anonymous said...

Yes Ernie, Ducks fornicate in twos.

Yes, "fornicate" is an Indian word. Haven't you ever heard on the old Western Movies that "the White Man speaks with a fornicated tongue"

Baptists...sheesh, they steal everything.

-Ross Rowley

Anonymous said...

You guys are too much. LOL,LOL,LOL
Penny

spyrock said...

a fornicated tongue, that's a good one. i'm going to steal that one later on. certainly not for baptists.

Ben said...

Ernie ... The book reference is terrific! I'm ordering a copy on Amazon right now. Most of the feather and shell decorated Pomo baskets were made for a highly developed basket industry run by various brokers and retailers. The oval baskets were often used by doctors to carry their medicines and powerful objects. Pomo baskets are considered among the finest baskets on earth. A beautiful book. I'm sure everyone has read the Northcoast Journal article on local grave robbing. RIGHT?!!!? Notice that it is now a felony to disturb graves. I know of Indian cemeteries from the 20th century which were teated as inconsequential by modern landowners. Some were purposely bulldozed to "prevent" archaeologists from investigating them. Little did the landowner know that the site had already been located and mapped. Another more recent graveyard was dozed and a house built on it. Shades of "Poltergeist". In the Journal article, you will see pictures of broken ceremonial blades taken from graves. To break one of those precious blades was an act of great respect for the deceased one. The blades are considered fine works of art and are gazed on to see their patterns which seem like the ripples on water. The ones used in the Deerskin Dance are well known. They may be the most precious possessions in that culture.

Omr said...

Thanks again Ben.
Here is a picture of a man at the Siletz, Oregon reservation holding larger blades. This Washington website is another large compendium of good Indian pictures

Omr said...

Thestory of a White Deer flintknapper and some of those long blades.

spyrock said...

this is all very interesting to me. i was reading a book by tom brown called grandfather and there is a chapter on stones and how to communicate with them and grandfather learned how to find nice looking stones. also, i'm going to the land of shining stones this summer where tribes came from all over to gather the flint for arrowheads. this time people from all over the world are coming to manifest peace.

suzy blah blah said...

a chapter on stones and how to communicate with them

You listen. Slow down, quiet your mind, release all that inner garbage that you have gathered over the years.

olmanriff said...

Ouch, at my age I better have a dumpster (or two) nearby for that inner garbage release.
For those with less years of accumulation, what precautions do you recommend for where to store the garbage? Composting meditation stools? Maybe a poor choice of words.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ben, I did the same thing. (ordered the book)

The nappers tell me that obsidian is remarkably easy to nap. (Easy for them to say)The Indian people prefered chert for arrowheads, blades, and weapons, because it was much stronger and more reliable, but they used obsidian for their ceremonial gear and jewlery.

suzy blah blah said...

Omr, i dont think you really really want to gnow, but just in case you decide to change yr mind * * * --you send the inner garbage aka conditioning back to its Source.

Omr said...

thanks suz, i was intererested in what you would say. i am gonna flush my conditioners down the grey water drain, not much hair to use em on anyhoo. you were kind to answer. Source must have a large capacity for receiving back conditioning, not that people use it much.

suzy blah blah said...

I used the word Source in this discussion becuz it is a shamanic term for the Creator, God, etc.

Ernie Branscomb said...

God, Shaman, Creator, Source. It's all just Shamantics...

suzy blah blah said...

that's true Ernie --'In the beginning was the Word', which is how salmon got ticks.

spyrock said...

wow, composting meditation stools.
what a great marketing idea. and a great metaphor. like the phoenix rising from the ashes. when you let go of your conditioning. however, in my case i never let go until everything was burnt to ashes anyway. and when you can finally learn to forgive losing everything that was taken away from you or burnt up in the fire, you find yourself on the meditation stool and out of the compost of those ashes, you allow the future you want to create to emerge. you are no longer living in the past, you are finally just here in the present moment. with your fertilizer right beneath the stool, helping you midwife your new world.

Dave Kirby said...

Re: Large blades. There currently resides in the Eastern California Museum aka the Eastern Sierra Museum an Obsidian blade that measures over two feet in length and is about 2 1/2 inches wide. The note in the display case says it is of Yurok origin and was used in the White Deerskin Dance. As the museum is located in the town of Independence CA down in Inyo County one wonders how it got there. I asked the docent when I was there in March for background information but she didn't know anything about it.

suzy blah blah said...

The docent may be sharper than you give her credit for my dear Watson. She says she doesnt gnow anything about it but she knows that it got around...

but also, more to the point, wow thats a BIG blade LOL!

Omr said...

Found a topically pertinent book today, The Hover Collection of Karuk Baskets, published by the Clarke Museum in 1985. Great photos! Made me want to see what else the Clarke Museum has published.

Omr said...

On page 339 of Whipple and Heizer's California Indiand, Kroeber gives a detailed description of Yurok,
Hupa, and Karok money and dentalia and valuations(how many strings things cost) that is fascinating and a must for researchers. I haven't found it online but I will link it here if I do.
The dentalium were valued by length as determined by how many fit on a string measured from nose to fingertip, approximately 27 1/2". Shell lengths of 2 1/2 inches (11/strand) were most esteemed, down to 1 7/8 inches (15/strand). The worth of a string of dentalia halved, starting at $50 for 11 shell strands, as each shell is added to the strand. A string of "15's was worth $2.50. Smaller dentalium had no money value, though they were used in necklaces.

On the subject of blades Kroeber states that "...the few renowned giants that reach 30 and even 33 inches are, from the native point of viw, inestimable. The above applies to black obsidian. The red, which is rarer and does not come in as large pieces, is worth considerably more. Most valuable of all are the blades of white flint, which can not be chipped quite as evently as the obsidian, but can be worked broader and somewhat thinner. The largest of these run to about a foot and a half long." pg 343

Anonymous said...

I possess a woman's Dentalia cape very similar to that worn by the woman at the top of your blog. When I purchased it in the 1960's I was told that it came from a Sioux trading post at St. Francis, S.D.
Leonard W.

Kayla said...

Didn't read the rest of the comments, but the Hupa woman's anglo name is ewa:k Mary Socktish, (ewa:k is a respectful way to begin to refer to the dead in Hupa). She was a medicine woman in the tribe that kept our ceremonies going during a time of great pressure by the Federal Govt., missionaries, and the boarding school system. They were trying to do away with our cultural heritage, especially among the youth. They didn't succeed. She's my grandfather's grandmother, and grandmother to many people in Hoopa. Her nickname also has been "The Queen" in anthro texts on our ceremonies.

Anonymous said...

i found a 9 1/2 inch obsidian spearblade, the craftmanship led my dad to beleive it was cerimonial wealth blade, these blades were also used by the clearlake pomo i beleive in the white deerskin obsidian cult. the only person who ive seen been able to replicate the ancient masters was the half white,half hoopa indian keeper of the obsidians. and this guy on e bay, i thought he was just another copper flakking facsimily but looking closer it looked excactly like the i found, i pulled up his adress, and he was an indian on a res in oklahoma. my harddrive crash and lost web site, hes no longer on e bay, he looks the new keeper of the obsidians. the old cordillean technique is an desciplined art form this guy appears to have instinct,insight,i beleive its hereditary,im not sure you have to see his work if you can locate him.cherokee? someone mentioned in a book indians from round valley? or hupa? were sent to oklahoma, or capt jacks? and that they family reunion pow wow every year here in nor cal. might be the same people. respectfully yours mike