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,
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
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
(1880s) 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
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.