19TH CENTURY CROW INDIAN SADDLE –
EXCELLENT SPECIMEN: These early Native American
saddles dating from the 19th Century simply
did not survive in large numbers.
Given their intended
use, the method and materials used in construction, and
the environment in which they were used, the true early
19th Century Native American Saddles are not found in
any significant numbers and those that do exist often
present in relic condition.
Many of the saddles were intentionally destroyed by the
army during the Indian Wars, along with the horse herds
and other captured camp equipage in compliance the
stated policies to deprive the free roaming native
people their means of transportation and the equipment
necessary to maintain their way of life on the plains.
Once confined to the reservations and agencies, the
older style of native saddles were no longer needed or
were no longer practical, and were replaced by the
standard contemporary saddles manufactured by the
commercial saddleries and obtained from the general
stores. Hence, surviving specimens of these 19th
Century saddles crafted by the Plains tribes in the
traditional fashion are fairly scarce and are actively
sought after by today’s collectors.
This is a
particularly nice example of a Crow Saddle - one of the
more classic designs originating on the Northern Plains,
and almost iconic in its shape and design. Constructed
of hand fashioned wood, the four pieces of the frame –
the pommel, cantle and two side bars – are solid and
intact, and the face of the pommel has the classic
additional baggage hook. Measuring
22” long across the
top flats and 20” along the side bars, the pommel and
cantle top flat paddles are 17” high, and the seat
measures 11” between the two uprights. To provide some
sense of size and scale, I’ve included a photo with a
half gallon milk container next to the saddle.
bears faint traces of red ochre earth paint and the
frame is very solid with no loose joints.
The wood frame is covered in very old light
weight rawhide that is sinew sewn on all the seams.
covering is in excellent condition on the outer/upper
surfaces with all the seams intact. At
both the front and rear extensions of both side bars
there are pairs of the properly hand burned holes for
the attachment of the girthing straps. Given its age
and apparent use, it is not surprising that this remnant
of the Crow horse culture does show some signs of age.
There is some separation of the seams on the under sides
of the side bars, but the underside seams are otherwise
stable and have not weakened the integrity of the
saddle, nor does this wear detract from the overall
appearance of this piece. The feather
weight of the wood frame and the parchment like
character of the rawhide, both having been well seasoned
through the last 100 plus years, provide ample testimony
to this saddle’s age and authenticity.
On its own merit, this unique piece stands as a
testament to the historic Native Horse Cultures of the
Western Plains, and it presents very well as a
spectacular example of
pure Native American sculpture.
Included in a collection of US military saddles or
Indian War period accoutrements and weapons, this saddle
would be a poignant addition to your display. I sought
such a saddle for many years to add to my collection and
the Cheyenne saddle that now resides with my military
saddles is the first piece of horse equipment that
visitors notice. I cannot emphasize how difficult these
saddles are to find, particularly in this nice
condition, and when they are available, they often
command prices several times that of the price of this
piece. I was fortunate to obtain this excellent example
and to be able to offer it at a very reasonable price.