Curvilinear floral and foliage designs in brightly colored glass beads pay homage to the woodland environment from which these beautiful bags derive. Such designs are common on bandolier bags made by Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee Indians in the Great Lakes.
Bandolier bags were made by women and primarily worn by men, slung over the shoulder with the bag falling at the hip. They were often worn two at a time, one on each shoulder with the straps crossing on the chest. The form was copied from bags used by European soldiers to carry cartridges for their rifles, but Great Lakes Native American bandolier bags often did not have a pocket—they were worn for decoration.
Bandolier bags were essential parts of ceremonial regalia. The thousands of beads and hours required to create the bag reflected the wealth and prestige of the owner. Bandolier bags were exchanged, gifted, and used as a sort of currency to establish and maintain relationships. For this reason, they’re often referred to as “friendship bags.”
The Logan Museum curates an impressive collection of over 20 bandolier bags. The collection has attracted outside scholars and has been used by students in exhibition and research projects. The bag pictured here was studied by Lindsae Long’06 as part of a museum studies research project. Long obtained a M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Washington, and is currently the registrar at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.