The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt
Lot 4316
The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt
Sold for US$ 338,500 inc. premium

Native American Art

5 Dec 2011, 12:00 PST

San Francisco

Lot Details
The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt
The Bones Collection, including an early Cheyenne quilled war shirt
Cheyenne shirt
Of mountain sheep hide, open at the sides, an imposing quilled rosette prominently placed at front and back, quilled strips applied across the shoulders and down the sleeves, quill-wrapped hair suspensions align the arms, blue dye coloring the undecorated hide of the upper sections, red stroud cloth trimming the neck.
length 32in

Cheyenne tobacco bag
Beaded identically on both sides with a concentric box composition, an hourglass motif across the quill-wrapped rawhide slats, twisted fringe suspensions.
length 35in

Plains bowcase, quiver, and arrows
Narrow bands of beading about the mouth and along a lengthy drop finished with red dye and horsehair, short fringe at both ends, the bowcase no longer attached to the quiver; with associated single-curved bow and five arrows, three of these with remaining steel tips.
length of quiver 40in, bow 48 1/2in

Sioux pipe
With flattened wood stem and T-form catlinite bowl, brass tacks applied on the top, quilled decoration now lacking.
length 27 1/2in

Anglo-American mourning dress
Of black silk, with flecks of blue, gold, green and red, trimmed with black lace: "This dress belonged to Sally Rood Doolittle, great grandmother to Ben Roland Bones, mother of James R. Doolittle, Senator for years during the Civil War days. Died in Racine, Wisconsin, September 7, 1880."
length 55in

Anglo-American beaded purse
In variegated blue-green crochet, decorated with steel-cut faceted beads, metal clasp at top and chainlink handle, "This purse and bag were part of the wedding outfit of bride in 1851, Delia Doolittle, who was married to Marquis Fargo Cutting."
length 8 1/2in

Extensive family history and Museum research regarding the collection accompany the lot.


  • The Ben Bones Collection -
    Summary and Intent to Maintain Collection in its Entirety

    Prepared by Tina Reuwsaat
    Associate Curator of Collections
    Southern Oregon Historical Society
    Medford, Oregon

    It is the request of the Southern Oregon Historical Society that the entire Ben Bones collection be offered at auction in one intact lot. It is also our hope that the new owner will retain the collection in its entirety. The reason for this is to maintain all the forensic and circumstantial evidence necessary to support the recorded family provenance and the attributions that have been determined by research. More research may be undertaken to support the family claim that Marquis Cutting and Spotted Tail did indeed meet and exchange the items at the stated time. DNA and other forensic testing could answer where the shirt originated and perhaps who its original owner was. Study of the workmanship and tribal quill worker societies might also result in a maker's attribution. Even the Anglo items reaffirm the relationships between the players involved with a particular significance being added by the familial ties of the Cutting and Doolittle families. The Doolittle senatorial connection also underscores and brings to the fore the social and political conditions and issues that were in place at the time and perhaps shed some light on why and how Spotted Tail could have been trading these items at Fort McPherson in 1867.

    Each item represents a piece of the not-yet complete picture that is in the process of being reconstructed. This picture reflects a time when the West was being settled and the Native Americans were undergoing the stress of attrition and assimilation. The artifacts offer as a whole the various threads weaving three important and historically significant families into a concise window into the times. We hope and trust that the new caretakers of the collection will respect the unique relationship binding these artifacts together, recognize the importance of preserving the collection in its entirety for historians and scholars, and honor our request to keep the collection intact.

    "THE SPOTTED TAIL SHIRT", Southern Oregon Historical Society

    Submitted by Benson L. Lanford, October 28, 2011

    Southern Oregon Historical Society staff members have conducted extensive research to substantiate the provenance of the classic Cheyenne shirt in the Bones Family Collection as being attributed to Chief Spotted Tail, of the Sicangu (Burned Thighs) Lakota. As part of the Gift Agreement issued in 1957, the donor, Benjamin R. Bones, had furnished a written and signed statement documenting his family's collection history relating to this shirt as follows: Benjamin R. Bones [now deceased, of Grants Pass, Oregon], was the great grandson of Rueben and Sarah / Sally (Rood) Doolittle. Marquis Fargo Cutting, the collector of the shirt (and other Indian objects) was married to Delia Doolittle Cutting, sister of U.S. Senator James Rood Doolittle. In 1865, a Lieutenant M. F. Cutting was a member of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, Co. F, and subsequently a Post Trader at Fort McPherson, Nebraska, 1867 (near current day North Platte, Nebraska). It is he who originally collected the shirt at that time. In 1865 James Rood Doolittle, brother-in-law to Marquis Cutting (and lawyer, orator, judge, and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin) wrote the Doolittle Survey on the condition of the Indians in the West. This illustrates an early interest on part of James Doolittle himself. To demonstrate that Chief Spotted Tail and Doolittle were in the very same region during the same general period of time-- according to SOHS data, on May 25, 1867 the NEW YORK TIMES reported that Spotted Tail and his group were camped near Fort McPherson, asking for subsistence supplies from the Government in consequence of being driven from their hunting grounds on the Republican Fork by the operations of the United States again the hostile tribes. This puts Spotted Tail and Marquis Cutting-- Post Trader (and ancestor of Benjamin Bones) in close proximity with each other at this particular point in history.

    This exceptional shirt is immediately recognizable as being one of the earliest shirts—if not indeed the very earliest shirt extant from the Cheyenne Tribe. Assuredly it dates to the mid-19th century. The shirt body consists of well-tanned, native-processed leather, undoubtedly mountain sheep hide. The large rosettes, as well as the sleeve and shoulder strips, are of native-tanned buffalo hide fully-overlaid with porcupine quillwork. With the possible exception of the blue pigment, native vegetal dyes furnished the coloring agents for the quills. As is typical for shirts of this type, locks of human hair border the strips. Narrow panels of red wool frame the neck opening. The large quilled rosettes, front and back, embody archetypal Cheyenne symbolism—- that of a corral-like "impound" formerly practiced in the hunt of large game animals. Additional symbolic import therein recalls the village circle, in the manner that for formal encampments the tipis were characteristically pitched in a circular formation.

    How Spotted Tail could have come into possession of this fine shirt of Cheyenne manufacture is not difficult to explain, given the complexity of Indian customs, and their practice of moving about rapidly and freely over large areas of their respective territories. The people recognized salient qualities among their own, as well as in visitors-- in whose honor diverse customs were practiced and on whom imposing gifts were bestowed with great ceremony. As a greatly respected Chief, Spotted Tail would have been the recipient of frequent gifts in recognition of his position as a leader. Of particular significance is that during this relevant period of time the Lakota and Cheyenne had for decades enjoyed a close relationship as allies. His association with the Cheyenne dates to early in his life. As Hyde relates, Spotted Tail was born in 1823; during his teen years, he found himself in company with young Cheyenne males as they sallied forth on combative expeditions together. On a particular occasion prior to an engagement with the Pawnee, when about sixteen years of age, Spotted Tail, along with two other Brule' and three Cheyenne youth, was chosen to scout the enemy position. The fact that Spotted Tail was only 16 years old at the time attests to a reputation of bravery already his at that young age. (Hyde, 1961:26-27) Hence, early on Spotted Tail began close association with the Cheyenne. It deserves mention that Spotted Tail's two sisters married Crazy Horse the elder—father of the Crazy Horse of Battle of the Little Bighorn fame, and thus Spotted Tail's nephew.

    Spotted Tail's exemplary qualities as a leader served well throughout his life. Consistently, Spotted Tail demonstrated keen judgment and shrewdness in guiding his people. As a prominent, highly honored Lakota Chief, by 1853 Spotted Tail had been appointed a "Shirt Wearer"; shirts of the type being the primary emblem of this elevated office. In 1868, along with other Indian leaders, Spotted Tail signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie. Given the American Indian propensity of bestowing important gifts upon each other, especially at such significant times of gathering, it is conceivable that on this occasion—- if not on another, this Cheyenne shirt was presented to him by a Cheyenne delegate or colleague.


    -- Hyde, George, W., SPOTTED TAIL'S FOLK: A History of the Brule' Sioux, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1961; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 61-6497.
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