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Beadwork Masterpieces: Native American Bandolier Bags

Potawatomi

During the early 1600s the Potawatomi were forced into Wisconsin from their homeland in Michigan. By the mid 1700s they had expanded from eastern Wisconsin into Illinois, Indiana, and back into Michigan. During the 1830s and 1840s they were forced onto reservations in Kansas and Iowa. Some moved to Oklahoma in 1867. Others remain in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, southern Ontario, and Kansas. Several features characterize Potawatomi bags:

  • Identical designs on both sides of the strap
  • The bag and strap designs are the same or closely related
  • The fill of appliqué floral elements is not in graduated colors

Northern Wisconsin tribe, possibly Potawatomi, 1880
Northern Wisconsin tribe, possibly Potawatomi, 1880

The continuity of the woven design from the bag to both sides of the strap suggests a northern Wisconsin origin, although the designs are large and not repetitive like Winnebago designs.
Source: Loan from the Kansas City Museum Collection, Courtesy of Union Station Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri
[1940-686]

Potawatomi, 1945
Potawatomi, 1945

This bag was probably made as part of a cultural revival. The bead colors differ from those on bags made in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Though somewhat modern, the design and color continuity from tabs to bag to strap suggest Potawatomi origin.
Source: Loan from the University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology, Lawrence.
[E5696, 70.13.1]

Potawatomi, 1945
Potawatomi, 1945

This bag was probably made as part of a cultural revival. The bead colors differ from those on bags made in the late 1800s or early 1900s.Though modern, the continuity of design from tabs to main panel to strap conform to the old Potawatomi standard.
Source: Loan from the University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology, Lawrence.
[E5474]



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Last updated 7 February 2005  

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