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Native American Women: c.1910

Native American Women: c.1910

Revised: 7/25/16
I sent a copy of this to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to find out if they could identify what tribe they may be from. The reply I received reads:
“There are not enough distinctive articles to make a positive tribal identification. However, the purses provide some distinction as coming from the plateau area of the country.”
In my original caption I assumed the plateau was the Colorado Plateau since the negative came from Denver but thanks to Manidoogiizhig and his or her's insightful reply “Perhaps” the plateau area referred to must be the Oregon Plateau.
Please read the full informative comment below.
Scanned from the original 4x3 inch glass negative.

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Definitely high plains

They're not in the desert - the grass appears too thick for that - and the terrain is certainly consistent with that you'll find around the Umatilla Reservation. If they are Umatilla, they're relatives of the people still raising wool for Pendleton Woolen Mills, which might explain the blankets and the dresses of nicely woven fabric as well. Pendleton maintains a beautiful tipi outside their headquarters in honor of this partnership to this day.

Possibly Umatilla Women

Umatilla women posing for photographs usually carried a beaded bag, had braided hair parted in the middle and wore round flat earrings that were sometimes beaded. Umatilla's also also lived in teepees. 1900's photographer Thomas Moorhouse made many Umatilla Tribe photos c. 1900 on the Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon.

re: Perhaps

Thanks for your interest and help. What you said makes perfect sense and I’ve revised my description.
I scanned the negative at 1200ppi at 250% and this is the clearest image I can get of the purses.


Although I do not speak for my western brethren, but amidst the few details present and despite a somewhat unclear photo considering it was scanned from an original negative suggests that the photo was likely taken circa 1910. The woman in the middle has on store bought shoes that were popular at the time. The other two wear traditional native footwear. All three appear to be wearing store bought dresses in style also suggestive of the era. The one interesting factor is the hand bag being held by the woman in the middle and in particular the hand bag held by the woman on the right is quite similar in beadwork and design of the Umatilla people of Oregon.

You can rule out Hopi and Zuni, for starters

Wrong kind of dwellings. The Hopi and Zuni built permanent pueblo-style buildings, as the weren't nomadic. They didn't move from season to season, ergo didn't need tipis, as seen in the background of the shots. The photo below is a multi-family Zuni dwelling.

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