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Blackfeet or Assiniboine Boy's (Minipoka) Shirt Sample Catalog Entry: Boy's Shirt Blackfeet, possibly Assiniboine Montana or Saskatchewan ca. 1870 Buffalo skin, glass and gourd beads, porcupine quills, rabbit fur, tin cones 35" l. T65 Private Collection, Canada; William E. Channing, Santa Fe; Jonathan Holstein, Cazenovia, New York The buffalo hide used for the front and back is left open along the scalloped side edges. From the wearer's perspective, the horizontal stripes are composed of bands of yellow beadwork alternating with brick-red painted bands on the left half and horizontal bands of sky-blue beadwork alternate with bands painted a darker shade of blue all over the shirt's right half. This composition has probably a symbolic quality; it is reminiscent of the battle strips painted on warriors' costumes and tipi covers. Stepped triangles in green, yellow, and black beadwork decorate the ends of the short sleeves and the lower edge of the shirt. The V-shaped neck opening is edged with a bead-wrapped rope and metal cones on short fringe. Fringes of white rabbit fur are sewn onto the shoulders and metal cones on quill-wrapped fringe hang from the shirt's bottom edge and around the ends of the sleeves. Although said to have been acquired from the Blackfeet, the lazy stitch beadwork is unusual for that tribe and all other shirts of this type seem to have originated from the Assiniboines in Saskatchewan and northern Montana. All these examples show exceptionally colorful beadwork in striking patterns. Finely decorated garments such as this shirt were given to selected children of wealthy parents. (c.f. Feest 1994, fig.133; Royal Ontario Museum HK-586; Dockstader 1961, fig.194; Furst 1982, pls. 160 & 167; Ewing, ed., 1982, fig.174; Brasser 1976, fig.184) The Blackfeet called them Minipoka, "favored children," their beautiful garments, toys, play tipis and ponies proclaiming the prestige of their parents. Furst and Furst 1982, pl.167; Johnson 1992, p.189, fig.A; Vincent 1995a, p.38; Vincent 1995b, p.69, pl.XIII. Sample exhibition label: Boy's Shirt, ca. 1870 Culture: Blackfoot, possibly Assiniboine, Montana or Saskatchewan Materials: buffalo hide, glass and gourd beads, porcupine quills, rabbit fur, tin cones, rope Blackfoot parents often lavished much attention upon one favorite child. Known as minipoka, these children received extravagant gifts and clothing such as this beaded and painted shirt.
height 19.5 in, width 20 in