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War Shirt

Northern Plains

ca. 1830-40

tanned hide, dyed porcupine quills in red, black, blue, with red wool trade cloth

height: 42"
width: 66"

Inventory # CP4311-151


The sleeves have three lanes of quilling with crosses representing the morning star. There are roundels or medallions both front and back recalling the universe and the four sacred winds. These design elements visually represent a dragonfly. Dragonflies were revered by the plains Indians for their speed and agility, something a warrior needed. The unique construction of the shoulder flaps appear in Bodmer’s paintings of Assiniboine warriors in 1833 and similarly in Kane’s painting in 1848 and would identify this shirt as Assiniboine.

Collection: Hung in a cabin in the Gatineau Hills outside Ottawa since the late 19th Century.


Donald Ellis Gallery, Dundas, ON
Private collection, Toronto, ON

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