Metis beadwork

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Hidden away in my Father’s trunk was this beautiful piece of Metis beadwork. I remember seeing it once or twice as a child, but to my regret I have no memory of the story behind it. My one Hogue aunt still living remembers seeing it, but doesn’t remember where it came from. Since it is sewn on men’s gaiters, I suspect that it belonged to Thomas Hogue, Sr. who was supposedly a great horseman.

I have had it appraised by Sherry Farrell Racette, Associate Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, and it is likely from about 1870. This is based on the design, type of beads, colour, thread, etc. The original beadwork is worked on black velvet, and was obviously sewn on the gaiters at a later date.

So, given the date, who could have been the creator? I have three Metis “grandmothers” who were alive at that time. Was it made by Thomas’s wife, Philomene McMillan, or his mother, Marguerite Taylor, or his Mother-in-law Margaret Dease? We will never know.

There is always the chance that it was bought or traded, and thus made by someone outside the family, but it seems unlikely it would have been kept this long if it had no family connection.

I would love to have it mounted in a proper archival display case someday. For now it sits, wrapped in archival paper, and kept in a dark closet to prevent deterioration.

Beautiful, is it not?

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