Ceremonial regalia donated to local museum
Ralph and Sharlette White have long supported the preservation of history. Their love of history corresponds with that of Ralph’s Aunt, the late Betty White Smith. Betty was a volunteer curator of the Osage County Historical Society Museum since its inception in the mid-1960s until her death in 2006 at the age of 94.
OCHS President Shirley Roberts said, “Thanks to the White’s generosity, the Osage County Historical Society Museum is home to an incredible ceremonial eagle feather headdress and accompanying regalia. The clothing belonged to Sharlette’s late father, Bob Earles, who was an active member of the Akdar Shrine Indian Drill Team.”
Sharlette White said, “The bonnet was handcrafted by Muskogee Creek Chief Dode McIntosh. Chief McIntosh was on the board and the advisor to the Akdar Shrine Indian Drill Team. It was his responsibility to insure that all uniforms were handmade and authentic. Chief McIntosh gave both the headdress and moccasins to my father. He also was involved in constructing the uniform.”
Noted cultural expert and Osage Minerals Chairman Everett Waller evaluated these items for the museum. He noted, “The headdress has a minimum of 150 golden eagle feathers. Because it has not been used in a war culture but was created specifically for the Akdar Shrine Indian Drill Team, the headdress would be called a ‘replica.’
“The workmanship on the headdress is outstanding. The artist definitely knew what he was doing. The headdress was made from the feathers of an immature (3-4 year-old) eagle. The beaded medallions are adorned with five silk ribbon drops. The headband designs are new and include the thunderbird and a Muskogee Creek emblem. It is very nicely made. Everything was specifically created for this headdress. Chief McIntosh oversaw everything except for the moccasins which are authentic. The moccasins and parts of the bonnet are true traditional. The same person did the majority of the beadwork.”
In addition to the moccasins, the coordinating regalia include a set of leggings, two shirts, bead loin cloth, vest and belt, bells, choker and scarf. Waller commented, “This is a fine collection that dates back to the same era as the headdress, estimated 1960s. Knowing exactly when Mr. Earles participated in the Drill Team would better define the date. This is a very nice rendition and was made for a non-traditionalist to wear for the Akdar Shriners Drill Team. The Hollywood scene and onset of the 1920s powwows started to make a difference. Everything became flashier.”
Waller concluded his evaluation by saying, “The entire outfit shows a lot of heart.” Roberts added, “The museum is excited to be the keeper of such a fine example of Native American craftsmanship. We welcome everyone to stop by the museum and see this collection along with so many other outstanding exhibits.”
The Osage County Historical Society Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Located at 700 Lynn Avenue in the old Santa Fe RR Depot, the museum has an impressive gift shop and the country’s largest collection of books relating to Osage County history, its people, authors and artists. Call 918-287-9119 for more information or visit the museum online at www.OsageCountyHistoricalMuseum.com.