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Native American


Here is a selection of photographs from the exhibit.


This exhibition is the result of a collaborative effort to document contemporary traditional regalia. Professional photographer Douglas Elbinger donated his services to take portraits of dancers at the 1993 Michigan State University American Indian Heritage Pow Wow held during Michigan Festival in East Lansing, Michigan. The dancers voluntarily agreed to participate in the project and were interviewed about their clothing by fellows of the National Museum of the American Indian/MSU Museum Training Institute and Michigan Festival volunteers. The information presented here is reported as recorded during the documentation. Therefore, variations are evident, particularly in the spelling of tribal groups.

The negatives and corresponding information are housed in the Michigan Traditional Arts Research Collections at Michigan State University Museum and are available to interested researchers by arrangement.

Photo of Michael Winneshiek Michael Winneshiek
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Winnebago
Men’s Traditional Dancer

Winneshiek’s traditional dance regalia includes a roach comprised of deertail and porcupine gard hair, bone choker and breastplate, abalone and beadwork neck ornament, beaded and quillwork pouch, sash of fur and mirrored medallions, quillwork cuffs and legbands, eagle feather bustle, and breech cloth decorated with silver conchas. He is holding a wooden gun stock war club studded with medicine wheel design.

Photo of Bernie Dowd, Sr. Bernie Dowd, Sr.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Men’s Traditional Dancer

A dancer for forty-five years, Dowd’s traditional dance regalia includes a porcupine hair roach, stick, headband, and medallion beaded with geometric and star/sun burst design, beaded yoke, and eagle feather bustle. He carries a beaded stick with the claw of an eagle and an eagle feather fan.

Photo of Chris Spotted Eagle Chris Spotted Eagle Garcia
Saginaw, Michigan
Men’s Traditional Dancer

Garcia began dancing sixteen years ago and made his regalia himself. Garcia’s headdress includes a hawk head, partridge, red-tail hawk, and eagle feathers and horsehair. His regalia also includes hair ornaments of eagle feathers, abalone shell, beads, and cloth fringe; beaded yoke, armbands, belt, and neck ornament; bustle of hawk and vulture feathers; and beaded and fringed turtle shell pouch. He holds a hawk head stick, hawk feather fan, hawk claw stick, and braided sweetgrass hoop.

Photo of Joe Smith Joe Smith
Detroit, Michigan
Men’s Grass Dancer

Smith’s grass dance regalia includes a porcupine roach with eagle feather, beaded headband with medicine wheel motif medallion, and beaded neck ornament. His clothing is appliquéd in the traditional colors of red and black and he holds a braid of sweet grass adorned with eagle feathers and a quillwork medicine wheel on abalone shell.

Thurman Bluejacket Bear
Detroit, Michigan
Men’s Traditional Dancer

Bear learned dancing from his father, Thurman, and has participated in the dances since he was an infant. His regalia includes a porcupine roach with two eagle feathers, double eagle feather bustle, a rawhide shield embossed with a stylized bear claw, and hand-held eagle feathers. The four sacred colors of red, black, yellow, and white embossed on the edge of his shield represent the four cardinal directions of south, east, west, and north respectively.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | back to MSU American Indian Heritage Pow Wow Portraits page