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skinny otter hats/headbands

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  • skinny otter hats/headbands

    Hey all.... OK, I saw an old photo of Bacon Rind and some other Osages.... of course Bacon Rind was wearing his familiar otter hat, but some of the other men (actually looked to be in their late teens) were wearing what might be called "skinny" otter hats or headbands - the fur was about 2 inches wide, not the 4-6 inch "turban" type that everyone from Oklahoma is familiar with. These did not have the tail down the back, no flaps on the sides, no medallions; a couple of these guys were wearing them with a roach. Looked just keen.

    My question is basically what's up with those? Given that the full-blown otter hats are tied to chiefs or their descendants, or religious leaders, etc (as has been covered in several other threads here), are there similar meanings tied to the otter bands? I'm especially looking for answers from cherosage, osagesooner, and you others that are involved in InLonSka, since invovlement @ one of the Osage dances may undoubtedly be an issue in these kinds of headwear - of course, other knowledgeable folks should weigh in too.

    My reason for asking is that IF these are not restricted or tied to specific and ongoing Osage symbolism or iconography, I'm thinking about experimenting with something along these lines. What I have in mind wouldn't necessarily look much like what I saw in that pic (I'll try to post that photo if I get a chance), but I wanna steer clear of restricted stuff. As I said... i might experiment, but who knows if anything would come of it....
    Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism.

  • #2
    I think I know what you're refering to. I haven't seen this in Pawhuska but hav eseen this from quite a while back and worn by some Sauk/Fox guys. I'm not sure of the origin of that style. I'll try to keep thinking, perhaps I'll remember something later. Historian may know of this style.


    • #3
      Great observation. I think you are acurately describing one of many varieties of headgear commonly worn in those old photos. Many people think that you wear either a roach or otter cap and that's it.

      You hit the nail on the head when you said these otter bands are worn WITH a roach, and typically small roaches at that, many probably turkey beard. It was common to wear a small roach with a finger woven head turban as well. We see wide (2-3") cloth bands pop up around the same time as these narrow otter bands. I've always believed this was the start of the white handkerchief style seen today.

      Going through my files, I spotted this style on Pawnee, Ioway, Sac & Fox, Osage, Kaw, and Winnebago. So I don't think this is a unique Osage thing, but I am interested to hear what others have to say.

      Last note, the only guy I've seen sporting this style lately is Mike Tucker, a well known researcher and curator of the Calif State Indian Museum in Sacramento. He sure looks keen when he wears this stuff. Of course, he would dress in the 1850s style everyday if they would let him.


      • #4
        There are many old photographs of certain Omaha-Ponca Hethuska members or Osage Inlonshka members wearing a headwrap of otter fur, or a headwrap of red fox fur. It has been said that the otter fur headwrap, often referred to as a turban or hat, was the "chief’s" headwrap, while a similar headwrap of fox fur was a mark of the experienced warrior.

        The red fox fur turban was usually narrow and plain, giving the appearance of a large headband and were sometimes worn in addition to the hair roach.

        The photos below, from the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives, shows a few Osage men with fur headwraps.

        Non-pe-wa-the – Osage – 1868

        Reaches The Sky – Osage – 1877

        Bacon Rind – Osage – 1900

        Bacon Rind – Osage – 1900

        Bone Heart – Osage – 1906

        Bacon Rind – Osage – 1906

        Red Eagle – Osage – 1908
        Last edited by Historian; 03-24-2006, 04:46 PM.

        "Be good, be kind, help each other."
        "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

        --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)


        • #5
          Gee wiz, is that the best you could come up with?

          Just kidding, nice group of pics.

          Anyone spot that swastika pin on Wa-xthi-zhi's vest? Same vest as Generous-1911.


          • #6
            holeeeee man...those leggings on Playful Chief are so incredible!

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            • #7
              Historian - those are keen pics, but....


              man I got dial-up out on the rez, and this site is already slow as hay-ul cause of all the flash ads.... took freakin twenty minutes for this thread to load.

              Anyway.... based on Bacon Rind's age in the pics you posted, I'd say the pic I saw was c. 1912-1916. And the guys with the skinny hats (definately not the fox fur - really clearly otter, and WAY, WAY skinnier than Bacon Rind's hat in the same pic) were late teens into early twenties, so they were clearly too young to have war honors. Maybe descendants of chiefs (as is the standard thing w/ the regular sized otter hats) or members of a society then? That's kinda what Bead Man was suggesting, cause especially for the Osages the InLonSka was by that time the main ceremonial thing that included everybody regardless of war honors, unlike some other societies.... Hmmm.... just had a thought - when was 101 Ranch in business? Around this same time? if so, might these skinny hats have been just a "show" thing for the Miller Bros shows? Were Osages even involved in 101 Ranch? Some of the other tribes that Bead Man mentioned definately were.... Anyway, just random thoughts as I contemplate these otter bands....

              And Walela - I've also seen a pair of Caddo leggins that has floral beadwork like those.... done on yellow hide, with red and cobalt blue floral forms outlined in white, zig-zaggin up the side seam.... So sis, wanna do me some more beadwork? That'd look keen on my yellow leggins w/ red and purple floral designs! hehehe.....
              Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism.


              • #8
                Awesome pics. Thanks for sharing


                • #9
                  Thanks Historian, for the pics. they're great. Does anyone know the ID of the #8 of the group pic. He looks like a picture my grandpa had of the time period. Grandpas pics ahve been lost since he and Grandma are no gone. No one wants to admit having them.


                  • #10
                    Alittle Adjustment the Person Bacon Rind was Omaha/ Osage who bears the Mark of Honor.
                    >>>~~~~*~~~~<<< THUNDERHILL >>>~~~~*~~~~<<<


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