Monday, May 19, 2014

Cree beadwork

This Cree beaded vest is held in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian or NMAI, located in Washington DC. The Cree are a Canadian First Nation who inhabited the woods and plains of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. As with many native peoples of the Americas, trade with Europeans introduced new ideas and materials including small glass beads and embroidery. Beading styles can be the typical Plains geometric or the woodlands floral, both celebrated nature and the relationships of humans to the cosmos.
Clothing styles also changed with contact; by the mid 1800s many native people were wearing vests that became popular with Wild West Shows and other forms of the tourist encounter. Many examples of beaded vests appear in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with lovely examples still made today.


The ancestors of today's Puebloan people moved into defensible rock shelters during the 1100s and 1200s AD, perhaps in response to drought, conflicts over natural resources and the arrival of Apachean peoples into the southwest. They build small towns using rock and clay mud and farmed on the valley floors & mesas. Later they moved out of these protected areas and established the various towns.

Keet Seel or Kawestima, dates 1250-1300AD and was home to perhaps 150 people. This cliff is located within the boundary of the Navajo Reservation and is now a National monument managed by the Park Service. This card was sent by a Postcrosser who recently went to the southwest on vacation and very kindly shared this card with me!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Canada's First Nations' films

Our local PBS station has recently added an all Native/indigenous station with programing on Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and many shows about Canada's First Nations. Like all PBS stations the programs range from kids' shows to cooking, crafts, gardening and documentaries about history & culture, but all focusing on indigenous peoples.
Native Americans are increasingly becoming involved in the film world as writers, directors and perhaps even producers. Tribes themselves are funding these new forms of expression and occasionally there is government support as well. This card advertises the National Film Board of Canada, producers and distributors of films. To see more about this office, visit their webpage:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mistipe, Creek

A swap from North Carolina brings me a nice addition to my collection. This card features Mistipe, a young Muscogee (Creek) boy, son of a local headman or Mico. He wears the usual cloth shirt, finger woven sash, and has a nice bandolier bag; for more on these, see the work of contemporary Cherokee artist Martha Berry at her website:
This painting was made by Charles Bird King in 1825 and later lithographed by McKinny & Hall
I have relatively few postcards of Southeastern Native people so this is a nice card to add to my binder, despite the USPS postmark ink smudge!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Portable buffalo hide tents, known as tipi in the Sioux language, were an important adaptation to a highly mobile prairie lifestyle made possible by horses and free roaming buffalo. After the buffalo were nearly driven to extinction, native people used cow hide or canvas to create their homes. Government policies designed to keep native people rooted in place on the reservation soon made tipis unnecessary for residence, but they continue to be used for Native American Church ceremonies as well as traveling to pow wows. This great card comes from Canada and features First Nation tipis located near Calgary, Alberta.

Black Hills Lakota

Did a fun swap with a Postcrosser in Texas who sent 2 cards showing Lakota Sioux and the Black Hills of South Dakota. This card features Ben Black Elk, son of the well known Lakota Holy Man, Black Elk. Ben worked from many years as a part of the tourism business at Mount Rushmore, a known landmark carved into a mountain on land that is still claimed by the Sioux. The US Govt admitted to taking it illegally and has offered payment, which has been steadfastly refused.

Another Lakota card features a US Postal Service stamp honoring the Lakota war leader Crazy Horse and the controversial Crazy Horse monument being carved by the son of the Mt Rushmore artist. Crazy Horse was killed by soldiers after surrendering to authorities; his body was buried in an undisclosed location by his family.