Lakota artist
South Dakota
Women’s Dress, about 1880
Leather, glass beads
60 × 56 × 1 in. (152.4 × 142.2 × 2.5 cm.)
Museum purchase  1937.68.10

Powerful Connections
Lakota dresses connect artists to nature, their community, and preceding generations of creative women. Here, the hem and sleeves preserve the shape of the animal hides used to make the dress. The beaded semicircle, symbolizing a turtle, recalls a Plains creation legend in which a turtle carried the first human across the water-covered earth on its back. The use of traditional designs and the extensive training required to make such extraordinary dresses also link artists to mothers and grandmothers who shared their knowledge of dressmaking.