Adornments : Plains Earrings

Plains earrings

These abalone earrings were purchased from a member of the Sioux tribe at the Poplar River Camp by Lieutenant Ogden B. Read in 1881, and later transferred to the Fleming Museum. The large abalone shells that form the lower part of the earrings and the small dentalia shells on the upper part of the earrings were most likely obtained through trade from another tribe located on the Pacific coast or from American traders.

These earrings were created as a man's adornment. Body piercing played a significant role in gendered ceremonial practices among the Sioux during this period. During adolescence boys had their ears pierced as part of a Sioux ceremonial ritual called the Sundance. The Sundance remains a significant summer religious ceremony celebrated by many of the Plains tribes. The ceremony is completed as a prayer to life and thanks to the Earth.