Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) dress, unknown artist/owner, circa 1900.
This Niitsitapi woman’s dress is made from a purple woven woolen cloth and is completely hand-stitched. The woman who made and wore this dress must have been prestigious as demonstrated by the sheer quantity and variety of ornamentation she used. The yoke and shoulders are decorated with bands of small basket beads, first introduced in the 1890s, in 9 different colours. Three kinds of cowrie shells, which originate in the Indo Pacific region and were acquired through trade networks, are stitched onto the yoke and shoulders. The hide fringe is threaded with both cut and uncut basket beads in multiple colours as well as faceted blue beads. Thimbles, hawk bells, and sleigh bells are attached to the fringe which would tinkle when she walks.