Details and Tribal Variations of the Two Hide Dress

The Following Garments are a collection of Two Hide dresses gathered during my research over the past year. Proper attribution is given where available and collected as well as links to the original file location when noted. The information provided about the dresses was harvested at the time of collection, are not my words, and can not be verified as being completely accurate.

Please forgive any errors, this is just an attempt to educate and illuminate the dress and people who wore them.

As Always, click on the actual picture to see a (sometimes) larger and more detailed view.

Unknown Origin, probably Yakima
 Nez Perce
Blackfoot two-hide dress, ca. 1890: Canada. Hide, elk teeth, seed beads, trade beads, brass beads, pony beads, red and blue wool, sinew. Woman elders are respected as the keepers of vast amounts of knowledge. This dress—decorated with valuable materials that would have taken a long time to gather or receive as gifts—is an example of what a Blackfoot elder might have considered her finest dress.
Woman’s Dress, Plains, Prairie, and Plateau, ca. 1850, Nez Perce (Nimi’ipuu), Idaho, Oregon, or eastern Washington. Deer hide, sinew thread, pony beads, dentalium shells, and pigment L: 78 1/2 in. W: 53 in. Thaw Collection, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y. Photograph by John Bigelow Taylor. Object ID: T0096.
(Dallas Museum of Art)
 Nez Perce 1850
Nez Pierce dress Decorated with pound beads and Dentalium shells, collected by Reverend Spaulding.

The bottom of Nez Pierce dresses do not have wool
plugs. Please note the Spaulding dress is using size 8 black beads, but the white beads are definitely size 10.
Shoshone two-hide pattern dress with fully beaded yoke, ca. 1880: Colorado. Hide, seed beads, red wool, sinew; Shoshone belt, ca. 1910: Colorado.Canvas, seed beads, thread, leather tie; Shoshone moccasins and leggings, ca. 1890: Colorado. Hide, rawhide, seed beads, sinew. The Shoshone were considered intermediaries in the region’s elaborate intertribal trading network. As a result, they borrowed ideas from tribes with whom they had regular commerce, mainly those living on the Northern Plains. The fully beaded yoke on this Shoshone artist’s dress resembles a Sioux-style dress.
Sicangu Lakota (Sioux) two-hide pattern dress with fully beaded yoke, ca. 1870: South Dakota. Hide, seed beads, sinew. Between 1850 and 1870, Sioux artists began beading the background of the yoke with blue beads. The background represents a lake; the designs on the yoke may be reflections of the clouds in the sky or the Four Directions.
Sioux girl's two hide dress, ca. 1850: South Dakota. Deerhide, elk teeth, pony beads, red wool, sinew. This dress is decorated with 150 elk teeth. The number of teeth is a sign of the wealth of the artists family. Since only the eyeteeth of the elk (two per elk) are used on the dresses, the artist's male relatives may have been excellent hunters and/or traders.
Sioux two-hide dress (transitional style), ca. 1855(?): Probably South Dakota. Deerhide, pony beads, "hawk" brass bells, sinew. In the mid-1800's Sioux women began replacing the animal' tail on a two-hide dress with a beaded U-shaped design. With the greater availability of trade beads, artists could be more creative and experiment with new designs. Here, the crosses on the yolk may represent the Four Directions or the Morning Star.
Sioux two-hide pattern dress with fully beaded yoke, ca. 1865: Probably South Dakota, Deerhide, glass seed beads, tin cones, sinew. From the 1870's on yokes completely covered in beadwork became a trademark of dresses made by Sioux women. To get a larger decorative surface, women used three hides, but still followed a two-hide pattern.
 Sioux two-hide pattern dress with fully beaded yoke, ca. 1890: South Dakota. Hide, seed beads, sinew. Lakota women prefer beading with “lane stitch,” also called “lazy stitch,” which results in designs that resemble those made with porcupine quills. By stringing multiple seed beads on a needle before attaching the thread back down on the hide, this artist was able to cover a large area of the yoke faster than if she’d used quills.
 Yakima Dress
 Yakima Two Hide, click on picture for description
 Yakama two-hide dress, ca. 1860: Probably Washington, Deerhide, elk teeth, faceted "Russian" glass beads, glass seed beads, glass pony beads, red wool cloth, paint, sinew. The beaded fringe on the yoke is typiv\cal of the plateau-style dresses. The large blue-, green-, and gold-colored beads strung on the fringes are sometimes called "Russian" or "Siberian" beads. Russians traded them in North America, but they originated in Italy and Bohemia (noe part of the Czech Republic).
Yakama two-hide dress, ca. 1890: Washington. Hide, pony beads, faceted “Russian” glass beads, fire-polished glass beads, cut glass beads, seed beads, sinew; Yakama basket hat, ca. 1910: Washington. Plant materials, seed beads, thread; Yakama earrings, ca. 1910: Washington. Brass hoops, dentalium shells, red-painted rawhide; Yakama necklace, ca. 1930: Washington. Brass beads, leather. Extensive beadworkbeadwork, and even the fringe is beaded. This Yakama artist also chose to incorporate beads from many different time periods.

Yakama two-hide dress,ca. 1890: Washington. Hide, pony beads, brass beads, shell beads, sinew. Pony beads did not go out of style once newer beads were introduced. Today, artists of the Plateau, like members of the Yakama Nation, continue to use pony beads to define their tribal style.
Crow Elk Tusk/Tooth Two Hide Dress

Two-hide dress, latest year 1900
buckskin, pigment, cotton cloth, deer fur, beads, beading, dyeing
Object Height/Width: 123 x 120 cm width at sleeves
Object Height/Width: 48 3/8 x 47 1/4 in width at sleeves
Source unknown

Piegan (Blackfoot) two-hide dress, ca. 1850: Canada. Hide, pony beads, blue and red wool, sinew; Blackfoot belt, ca. 1890: Canada. Harness leather, brass tacks, hide; Blood (Blackfoot) moccasins, ca. 1880: Canada. Hide, seed beads, cloth, rawhide, canvas, sinew, thread. Piegan and other Northern Plains artists are noted for their emphasis on the natural beauty of the hides. The beadwork on the yoke focuses the eye on where the tail would be, and triangular trade-cloth patches represent the heads of the animals whose hides form the dress.

Documenting My Ojibwe Wool Strap Dress

After discovering Eastman Johnson's paintings and the dress he used in his famous "Hiawatha" painting were housed at the Depot Museum in Duluth, MN, I made an appointment with the head of Ojibway Studies and was given full access to this garment pictured in the painting to the right.

I took many pictures, counted every stitch and was even allowed to tape the entire proceedings.

I was very impressed by the delicate bead work done to this dress, especially the leggings, of which there were actually two pairs.

The dress was constructed of red and blue Stroud, or "List" wool, made in the town of the same name in England.

The wool had a white edging caused by the dyeing process and was favored by Native Americans for this reason.

The only resource I know of for this material today is Crazy Crow Trading Post and I have provided the link here.

All of the ribbon work on the sleeves and leggings were done in silk ribbon, and the leggings lined with a calico cotton fabric at the cuff.

The dress was ribboned with cotton twill tape and decorated with number 10 seed beads in white.

There were also legging ties, (garters), and a sash, all worked in wool blanket that had been unravelled, the beads being woven in but strung on sinew thread.

Examining this garment was the highlight of my life at the time, and with the knowledge gained I was able to faithfully recreate two wool strap dresses of my own based on this research.

I could not afford stroud wool at this time, so had to settle for lesser grade suit and blanket wool, but the results have been most satisfying and I look forward to eventually obtaining stroud wool and completing this project properly.

Back showing the all important red placard that gives structure to the garment.

Also note the ribboning is colored cotton twill tape.
Detail of front bodice beading in white no 10 seed beads in thunder bird pattern

Leggings showing silk ribboning and note small ribbon trailers at the edge of the cuff

Hand Sewing My Ojibwe Wool Strap Dress

Standing Wind Woman
The finished Dress

My family is originally from Grand Portage, Minnesota. In the search for my Mother's Grandmother, I came across this collection of paintings by Eastman Johnson, painted in Grand Portage around 1856. He was most famous for his rendition of "Hiawatha", a painting he painted with the use of Grand Portage regalia created for this purpose by local women.

I then asked for and was given access to study the dress featured in the famous "Hiawatha" painting.

The following is how I actually constructed the garment completely by hand.

First I laid out all pieces on the wool I had purchased for this project. Surprisingly, when laid out, there was only a small square scrap left over....

The garment itself was a simple 34" wide rectangle seamed on the right side and folded over at the top about 8 inches, the length runs from selvage to selvage, if this garment was made of stroud wool there would be a white band at fold over and hem selvages.

A Ribbon accent and stabilizer was added at the neckline and a seam sewn across the front from armpit to armpit one inch below the fold over edge.
I then stitched ribbon around the edges of the back placard and shoulder straps.
The placard is centered on the back overlapping the fold, (and therefore securing it in place), The fold in the back overlaps about 4 inches, in the front it overlaps 8 inches. I then attached the straps to the back placard....
This shows the proper placement of the straps
Then I attached the straps to the front, which I had already ribboned and decorated prior to this. There is also a seam made from armpit to armpit about one inch down from fold over continuing through the ribboned neckline area before the straps are sewn down, the straps extend 7 inches past the fold over.

This also shows an additional ribboned strip on the back fold over under the placard for additional stability that is hidden by the placard when sewn.

I then cut out and layer ribboned the sleeves...and the strap that goes across the chest and joins the sleeves in the front.
Ribbon edging on sleeve, folding to the inside 1/4 inch.

The sleeves are then temporarily attached at back and the cuffs joined by rolling around the wrist and while wearing, then stitching down in place to a tapered fit that allows easy removal while wearing.

The front strap is also applied while wearing so it rides across the collar bones.
Sleeves laid out for proper matching...

The sleeves are then joined in the back by various means, sometimes just tacked at the top or joined by ribbon closure. or simply seamed together for a jacket look.

Expect to heavily bead the jacket cuffs and edges so it gains weight and hangs properly.
Bead work begins on ongoing process....

Here the dress is assembled and hanging...a two inch ribbon added at hemline. Later I added a white ribbon to the selvage lines to imitate stroud.

My Sister and I in Grand Portage at the dock we grew up on, wearing my finished dress, well almost finished, I have done a great deal more bead work and added trade silver on this dress since then and one of these days I will take some pictures....I am also wearing a finger woven sash, garters and pouch made by Irene Rogers, world renowned finger weaving expert and teacher.

Here I am dancing with a Mic Mac Friend in Florida, note the sleeves and straps are fully beaded now....and how the front sleeve strap rides across the collar bones, extends over the shoulder and attaches to the sleeve.

Here is the original dress I made from blanket wool...I am holding my 1 1/2 point match coat and standing with my husband and fellow historian, Doyle
My Sister and I at the Grand Portage Monument and I in my blanket wool dress, perfect for a chilly day!

Details and Dancing My Ojibwe Wool Strap Dress

2007 Me and my Sister Jackie Grand Portage Reservation Monument Minnesota

2007 Me and my Sister Jackie On The Dock We Grew Up On Grand Portage Reservation, MN

Me and my Sister Jackie - Grand Portage Harbor, MN

Me and Lorraine, a Mic Mac Friend at Webster, Florida Powwow

Showing off the back details of our Historic Regalia

Comparing Legging Design, Moccasins and Ribbon Work

Dancing the Dress

Sharing a Good Dance with A New Friend

Witch Tree on Our Original Family Homestead, Grand Portage Reservation, Minnesota


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...