Native American Red Bird (Gertrude Simmons) Beaded Purse Mandan Artist Karen Beaver
“In 1876, Red Bird was born Gertrude Simmons in Greenwood, NE – the same year as the Battle of the Little Big Horn. She was born to a Yankton Dakota mother and a European-American father. Her Dakota name was Zitkala-sa, meaning “Red Bird”. She attended the Quaker school for Indians in Wabash, Indiana; Earlham College in Richmond, IN; and a music conservatory in Boston. In 1902 she married Raymond T. Bonnin, also a Dakota, and had a son.
“I was impressed by her photo and the story of her life. She was a remarkable woman of great accomplishments, professional writing and talent with the violin. Simply beading her portrait is but a small and humble homage. This woman gave twenty-five years by using her intelligence and gift for words in an organized effort to benefit the greater indigenous community. She is a role model and a muse. I admire her. To me she represented a change in indigenous life in how she lost her place in the Dakota world without finding a comfortable place in the white world. And I do understand just a little of how it feels. A woman who came from a warrior society has proved that that in her case the pen is mightier than the sword.”
“I have beaded the bag to be monochromatic in color. It can be displayed on the wall or worn during a special occasion. Other beaded bags of mine of similar design have been awarded first and second place awards at Northern Plains Indian Art Market Sioux Falls, SD and an honorable mention at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market Phoenix, AZ.”
Materials: white buckskin leather, solid brass beads, brass hawk bells, antique green (watermelon) beads, cloth, and glass seed beads (size 13 charlottes, size 14, size 11 delica white satin and 24k gold beads).
Bag is 7″ x 5 3/4″; 14″ x 7 1/2″ including fringe (excludes strap)