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LAKOTA SIOUX PARFLECHE – DEASSESSIONED FROM THE ROBINSON MUSEUM IN PIERRE, SOUTH DAKOTA:  A nice sized old Parfleche, with an old museum deassession tag from the Robinson Museum which was located in Pierre, South Dakota.   

Jonah Leroy (Doane) Robinson (1856-1946) was the secretary of the South Dakota State Historical Society and the superintendent of the State Department of History from 1901-1926.  In his role as the superintendent of the State Department of History, he served as the head of the state library, the vital statistics bureau, and the legislative reference division.  During the course of his lifetime, he collected the material culture which formed the basis for the Robinson Museum and the state Portrait Gallery.  

The Robinson Museum through time experienced several evolutions to become the South Dakota State Historical Society which now houses its collections at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.   

At some point in time, according the information on the attached tag, this Lakota Sioux Parfleche was deassessed from the Robinson Museum collections and sold into the public domain.  Such deassessions and sales are not uncommon as museum collections are reorganized and the curators determine they have duplicates or an item does not fit the current message the museum is attempting to relate to the public.   

The attached paper tag shows considerable age and discoloring, and is attached with old cotton string.  Written on the tag is the following:  “Lakota ca. 1870; Robinson Museum – So. Dakota; Elk Rawhide with trade and clay paints; Elk hide thongs; Old blanket (1880’s) wool edging cover.” 

The parfleche, measuring 12 Ύ” long and 8 Ό” wide, is fashioned of rawhide which holds it shape without any curling or disfiguring.  The rawhide is painted on the front surface and the saw-tooth edged flap with geometric designs.  The paint is worn along the lower third of the front, but the design is still very legible.  The bottom edge where the rawhide was folded to fashion the pouch shows considerable age where the top surface of the hide – the epidermal layer – has split with age.  Again, this is the top layer of the hide only and the remainder of the thickness of the hide remains solid and has not broken through, nor does it appear to be brittle or weak – just a good indication of age.   

The side edges are captured between strips of old wool material and laced in place with native tanned leather thongs.  There are two hanging thongs attached to the upper edge of the reverse of the pouch body which appear to be original to the parfleche.  There are  two thongs which secure the flap closed.   

Overall, this parfleche presents very well as a nice old piece with the added value of the accompanying provenance to the old Robinson Museum collection.  (0357) $550


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