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Garters and Bells

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  • Garters and Bells

    Garters made from fur such as otter, worn over leggings just below the knee, have been documented among tribes such as the Ponca, Pawnee, Sauk & Fox, Iowa, Oto, Winnebago, Dakota and Omaha during the 1850s and 1860s. (Feder, 1974, pp. 7-9, p. 45)

    Standing Hawk, Little Chief, Rattling Thunder - Omaha - 1866

    Ne-Sha-Si-Di-Te-Zi-Ka (The Chief Whom They Look Upon) - Pawnee - 1868

    Many photos from the 1870s through the early 1900s show loom beaded garters among the Ponca, Omaha, Oto, Iowa, Kaw and Osage with yarn tassels at each end with which to tie them around the legs.

    Omaha men - 1880

    Ponca woman and sons - 1890

    Omaha man - 1898

    James Arkeketah - Otoe - 1900

    Joseph Springer – Iowa – 1901

    Concerning these beaded garters, master craftsman and straight dancer Jerry Smith states,

    “Beaded garters didn’t just fade away after the turn of the (20th) century. They were part of the costuming of the grass dance and other tribal society dances”...“as modern Pow-Wows developed on the Southern Plains, bells were worn solely at the knees making anything but yarn garters impractical for dancers.”
    (Smith, 1984, p. 11)

    Today among most straight dancers, finger-woven yarn garters, in colors and design patterns matching the side drops, are worn over the leggings just below the knees. These modern garters will usually split into a pair of woven segments at both ends which hang down at the outer edge of the leg. Some dancers try to arrange the length of the side tabs and the length of the garter tabs to be even so that they meet at the same level at mid-calf.

    Most all straight dancers today wear dance bells fastened over the garters below each knee. Usually made of old round brass “sleigh” bells or modern round nickel-plated silver bells mounted on leather straps. Anywhere from ten to twenty bells can be seen on each leg.

    Dust Maker (aka Pete Mitchell) - Ponca - 1898

    George Michelle - Osage - 1905

    Austin, Robert.
    1969. Finger Weaving. Pow-Wow Trails Newsletter, December Issue, Somerset, NJ.

    Bailey, Garrick, and Daniel Swan.
    2004. Art of the Osage. St. Louis Art Museum, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

    Callahan, Alice A.
    1990. The Osage Ceremonial Dance, I’n-Lon-Schka. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.

    Conn, Richard.
    1971. Finger Weaving, Part I. American Indian Crafts & Culture Magazine, December Issue, Tulsa, OK.
    1972-a. Finger Weaving, Part II. American Indian Crafts & Culture Magazine, January Issue, Tulsa, OK.
    1972-b. Finger Weaving, Part III. American Indian Crafts & Culture Magazine, February Issue, Tulsa, OK.

    Dendel, Esther Warner.
    1974. The Basic Book of Fingerweaving. Simon and Schuster, New York, NY.

    Feder, Norman.
    1957-a. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1.
    1957-b. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 2.
    1974. Fur Garters. Indian America Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 7, Tulsa, OK.

    Howard, Dr. James H.
    1965. The Ponca Tribe. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 195, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
    1976. Ceremonial Dress of the Delaware Man. Special Issue, The Bulletin of the Archeological Society of New Jersey, No. 33, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.

    LaFave, Edward J.
    1998. Straight Dance Clothing: How to Dress a Straight Dancer. Whispering Wind: American Indian Past & Present Magazine, Vol. 29, No. 4, Folsom, LA.

    Smith, Jerry.
    1982. Straight Dance Clothes: Getting Them On. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, April Issue, LaPalma, CA.
    1984. Ten Garters From the Gilcrease. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, May Issue, LaPalma, CA.

    Stewart, Tyronne H.
    1968. Dressing a Straight Dancer. The Singing Wire Newsletter, February Issue.

    Turner, Alta R.
    1974. Finger Weaving: Indian Braiding. Sterling Publishing Co., New York, NY.
    Last edited by Historian; 03-01-2009, 05:20 PM.

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

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

  • #2

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

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


    • #3
      I have a set of beaded and a set of finger weave.


      • #4

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

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


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