Friday, December 30, 2016

Hummingbird Dancer

Today's mail bring a nice card featuring a Tocha or Hummingbird Kachina dancer, performing during the bean dance. This dance is held in Pueblo communities in February and starts the ritual cycle associated with Kachinas, spiritual beings who spend their winters in the mountains and bring prosperity to Native peoples. This image was painted by Cliff Bahnimptewa (1937-1984), a Hopi artist who painted many Kachina figures, and is attributed to the Heard Museum located in Flagstaff, AZ (1973).

It carries postal markings on both the image and text sides.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cheyenne Ledger Art

A new art style developed among Plains native peoples during the late 1800s. Pictorial art, made with colored pencils on lined paper often used by merchants, related personal deeds as well as community events. As a result of the Red River War, members of the Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyenne tribes were sent to prison in Florida where locals helped the men develop new skills, including art, that could be sold.

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OK City offers a postcard of a Buffalo Hunt drawn by Bear's Heart (Southern Cheyenne), produced sometime in the mid 1870s, probably while he was incarcerated at Ft. Marion, Florida. More of his work can be found in Bear's Heart: Scenes from the Life of a Cheyenne Artist of One Hundred Years Ago with Pictures by Himself (1977).

Additional examples of Plains ledger art have been collected and are made available at:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Lakota Purse

My Native/Indigenous subject cards are a nice mix of tourism souvenirs, historical photos, and museum objects. Museums occasionally print photos of objects in their collections, producing postcards for sale in their gift shops...(a project I plan to explore in the future considers the role that gift shop items play in extending knowledge about cultures to the public).

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City has many wonderful objects in their collection, including this beaded Lakota purse made in 1905.

Beadwork increased during the reservation period (1880-1920)...women made beautiful objects as gifts, for ceremonial purposes, and for everyday use as well as sale or trade at local stores. Items also circulated among tribes, given or exchanged in friendship and new marriages. Increasingly, women beaded objects associated with EuroAmerican culture including pillows, tablecloths, purses, watch fobs, hats, and umbrellas. Few artists make these types of objects today, but occasionally one can find them in fine art galleries.

Friday, December 2, 2016


A Postcrosser in Chile saw my comment in a forum about collecting Indigenous subjects cards and offered to send one from South America!

She kindly mailed this card; the text reads:
Pueblo Slek'nam (Onas). Tanu, pot-bellied and gentle, happy and inoffensive. Costume that forms part of the Hain adolescent initiation ceremony, pertaining to the Slek'nam peoples (Onas).

 but in her message she noted that the people were hunted and exterminated in Tierra del Fuego, with the government paying a bounty for proof of death. The majority of the group declined but a small number of tribal members and mixed-heritage individuals remain in scattered areas of Argentina.