What Is This?

Posted 16/10/22 in NEWS

In the past week a very generous donation was brought to the Woodland Cultural Centre by a local family.  The artifact donated came with very little information - "It was my aunt's.  She has no idea where or how she got it; or what it is."  The donors are not Native but felt the item had a very First Nations appearance.  Sadly, the museum staff also had no idea what this item was or how it may have been used.  We need your help!  If anyone has an idea of the purpose and name of the artifact pictured (with several views of it also available by clicking the images below), please let us know here at Woodland.  Information can be passed along via email (museum@woodland-centre.on.ca), by telephone (519-759-2650), on any of the Centre's social media accounts, or even in person.

This artifact is heavy - the bell at the bottom is iron and contain smaller iron balls which jingle and give off a cow bell-like sound.  There are two garter attachments on the artifact; one at the top and the other just above the bell.  These garters suggest the item may have been used as an item of clothing - i.e., worn on one's shin and attached at the knee and mid-calf - although it would have been very heavy.  The leather panel holding the garters to the bell is beaded with both white and red, and has cowry shells adhered down its length. 

Woodland staff have theorized the item may have had a ceremonial purpose and used in certain dance rituals.  Alternatively, another staff member felt it appeared more like regalia created for use in a "Wild West" show as representative of something a Native might wear.  And yet another person thought it might just simply be a highly decorated cow bell (albeit the length and number of garters makes this supposition hard to comprehend).