War bonnet - ROM2008_10320_5


War bonnet

Maker: Belonged to Chief Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux)
Medium:Golden eagle tail feathers, weasel skins, glass beads, dressed hide
Geography: Montana or North/South Dakota, USA; collected in southern Saskatchewan, Canada
Date: c. 1870
50.5 x 41 x 65 cm
Object number: 915X36.A
Credit Line: Gift of Sir William C.C. Van Horne
On view
Gallery Location:Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture

Sitting Bull’s war bonnet and its storage case were given to the ROM in 1915 by Sir William Van Horne, President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He received these from Major James Walsh of the North West Mounted Police. It seems they were presented to Walsh by Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Lakota chief and holy man, and over four thousand Lakotas found refuge at Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, after defeating General Custer and his Seventh Cavalry at the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

The war bonnet embodies sacred powers and also represents its owner’s war achievements. The feathers symbolize the eagle carrying prayers to the Creator; their radiating form makes a visual reference to the sun.

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