Patriotic Embellishment of Native Objects

Ancient warrior traditions of Wisconsinís Woodland Indian peoples are sustained through their disproportionately high service in the United States military. Native artists accordingly combine tribal and national symbols when fashioning objects for powwows and other events that attract a broad public audience. These objects are expressions of the diverse identities of each maker.


Potawatomi pall bearers at Chief Kahquados' reburial, 1931
WHS Image ID 2753

Ojibwe turtle shell rattle by Kenneth Taylor, 2001-2002
(2003.4.1)

Kenneth Taylor made this rattle in traditional fashion from turtle shell, deer antler, turkey feathers, raccoon fur, and elk hide. To commemorate the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he applied an image in the colors and pattern of the American flag.

Ho-Chunk dance shawl, c. 1950
(1999.59.4)

Used in the 1950s and 1960s in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states, this shawl features both American and traditional Ho-Chunk design motifs. Red, white, and blue ribbons and a painted triangle of a United States military insignia (armor) join painted eagle feathers.

Oneida veteran's pouch by Jim Cornelius, c. 1995
(1999.40.1)

The creation of objects by and for Native American veterans of the United States Armed Forces continues ancient traditions of honoring warriors. Jim Cornelius, an Oneida from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made this pouch incorporating American military medals and ribbons from his service in the Vietnam War.