Beauty, Honor, and Tradition: The Legacy of Plains Indian Shirts

December 10, 2000 – October 1, 2001

National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
One Bowling Green
New York, NY

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

On view are 50 mid-19th- to early 20th-century beaded, quilled, and painted shirts from the Assiniboin, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Mandan, Nez Perce, and other Plains tribes. The exhibition explores the history, cultural context, and development of these shirts as well as the materials, symbols, designs, colors, and figures used in their creation to reflect the artistic nature, philosophy, and values of the Plains Indians. The imagery on the shirts depicted important events, such as battles, and served to educate youth about the values of shirt-wearer's generosity, honor, and bravery. Today, the Plains shirt lives on in regalia worn at powwows and community celebrations, and in shirts and jackets made to honor achievements in academia and sports.