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Some Media Sources for the History of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (1)

August 11, 1963
[Indiana University News Bureau Press Release Launching the Indiana University Museum of History, Anthropology, and Folklore]
[PDF: IU Museum of History Anthropology and Folklore Original Press Release]

Summer 1982
Lighting for Storage of Museum Collections: Developing a System for Safekeeping of Light-Sensitive Materials

December 1989
Museum Studies in Collection Management

October 1998
Mathers Museum Showcases Worldwide Music Connections

August 27, 2002
IU Group Helps Establish World’s First Underwater Shipwreck Museum in Dominican Republic

September 3, 2002
IU Exhibit to Highlight Latino Experience in Bloomington

April 22, 2004
IU helps Dominican Republic Sink Shipwreck Museum

September 20, 2004
New Laboratory Brings Shipwreck Relics to Indiana University

November 4, 2005
Museum Studies Journal to be Housed in IU’s Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

March 20, 2006
Celebration of Diverse Asian Cultures, History and Peoples at IU Begins March 24

July 27, 2006
IU Archaeologists Hot on the Trail of Columbus’ Sunken Ships

August 24, 2006
Hands ‘on’ the Art: IU Art Museum Offers New ‘touch art’ Program for People with Low Vision

November 28, 2006
American Indian Groups and Mathers Museum at IU Celebrate Native Americans’ Heritage

December 12, 2007
Indiana University Discovers 1699 Captain Kidd Shipwreck

January 24, 2007
Actor Gary Farmer to Kick Off Second Native Film Series at IU Bloomington

January 18, 2008
‘Bridgwaters Family Photographs’ Opens at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on Feb. 1

February 6, 2008
IU Lecture: Captain Kidd, Columbus, Taino and the Golden Age of Piracy

February 21, 2008
IU Bloomington Libraries Publish their First Electronic Journal, Showcasing Faculty Partnerships

April 30, 2008
Faculty Member’s Work on Governance Commission Highlights IU-Liberia Connections

September 2, 2008
IU’s Festival Latino Brings in a Grammy-nominated Group to Celebrate 10th Anniversary

November 17, 2008
‘Maps Of Time’ Author to Deliver Wilkie Lecture

November 17, 2008
Captain Kidd’s Treasure: Wood Discovered, “Living Museum” in the Works

February 9, 2009
One-Man Shows in the Spotlight During IU’s ArtsWeek 2009

April 14, 2009
Indiana University Museums Receive National Honor

August 11, 2009
IU’s Mathers Museum Honored with Prestigious Grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services

August 18, 2009
IU Discovers Stone Tools, Rare Animal Bones — Clues to Caribbean’s Earliest Inhabitants

September 29, 2009
‘Shadow of Cortes’ Exhibit Traces Route of Conquistador and How he is Remembered

Exhibition Review: To Have and To Hold

August 26, 2010
Cultures Unite in ‘Indiana in Afghanistan; Afghanistan in Indiana’ Exhibit at IU’s Wells Library

October 1, 2010
Year-long Celebration of IU and Bloomington Museums begins Friday

October 10, 2011
American Folklore Society’s National Meeting Begins Wednesday at IU Bloomington

October 19, 2010
‘From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web’ Opens with Lecture, Museum Exhibit

December 3, 2010
Anthropology Students, with Extreme Cuisine, Connect Heritage with Food at Public Display

May 2, 2011
Capt. Kidd Shipwreck Site to be Dedicated ‘Living Museum of the Sea’ by Indiana University

August 9, 2011
Mathers Museum, Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology Merger Yields Cultural History Powerhouse

August 12, 2011
Bloomington Herald-Times: IU’s Black Laboratory and Mathers Museum to Merge

October 25, 2011
Pow Wow on Nov. 5 to Kick Off IU’s Observance of National American Indian Heritage Month

September 4, 2012
Exhibit, Book Capture Nation’s Vivid Past through IU Alum’s Early Color Photographs

September 27, 2012
Conference will Highlight French, Native American and African Interaction in Colonial Midwest

January 29, 2013
IU’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures names Folklore Professor as New Director

February 5, 2013
IU’s Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology Appoints New Director

March 12, 2013
Mathers Faculty Curator Reinvigorates Museum Research with Senegalese ‘Wish Books’

Apr. 11, 2013
Curating the Ostrom Collection: IU Students Practice Hands-on Curatorship at Mathers
[PDF: Inside IU 2013-4-11 (Ostrom) copy]

April 4, 2013
Mathers Museum Celebrates 50th Anniversary with ‘Treasures’ Exhibition, Programs

May 6, 2013
Art, Theater, Film Highlight IU’s Annual Summer Festival of the Arts

June 4, 2013
Mathers Museum to Host Limestone Exhibit Created by Traditional Arts Indiana

Summer 2013
[Various Stories] Process [Anthropology Department Newsletter]

June 25, 2013
Mathers Exhibit Highlights Native Americans’ Military Contributions

August 21, 2013
IU Professor Curates Apartheid-era Photo Exhibition for Display in Bloomington and South Africa

August 28, 2013
Wells Library IQ-Wall Moves to Mathers Museum

September 3, 2013
20th Lotus World Music and Arts Festival Will Begin with Concert at IU Bloomington

September 7th, 2013
Once a Hoosier, Always a Hoosier, in Ghana

September 10, 2013
Exhibit at Mathers Draws President of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance to Campus

October 18, 2013
IU Professor is Expert on Little-Known Native American Tribe

November 12, 2013
Pottery Exhibit at Mathers Features Life-Size Replica of Wood-Fired Kiln

November 19, 2013
IU’s Mathers Museum One of Three U.S. Institutions to Collaborate with Chinese Museums

Treasures of the Mathers Museum

February 11, 2014
Interchange – Curating Culture: Museums and Meaning

March 31, 2014
Brilliant Minds at IU Bloomington: The Mathers Museum of World Cultures

April 2, 2014
Mathers Brings Research Work to Life

April 14, 2014
Ojibwe Art Collected by Ostroms on Display Now at Mathers Museum

May 16, 2014
Musicians to Honor Southern Indiana Artist Lotus Dickey at Mathers Museum

June 16, 2014
Mathers Museum Exhibit “Assessing Authenticity” Exploring Identification and Authentication in Museums

July 21, 2014
Mathers Museum Makeover Creates Flexible Exhibition Space, Hands-on Learning Area

December 9, 2014
Traditional Arts Indiana to Create Traveling Show with National Endowment for the Arts Grant

February 16, 2015
‘Graces Received’ Curator to Speak Tuesday about How to Read Meanings in Catholic Folk Art

April 27, 2015
Mathers Museum to Host New Summer Institute on ‘Museums at the Crossroads’

March 12, 2015
Traditional Arts Indiana Thriving in New Home at IU’s Mathers Museum

May 5, 2015
William Siegmann’s Cultural Legacy Shown in Exhibitions at IU Art Museum, Mathers Museum

Summer 2015
Interconnections: Folklore Studies and Anthropology at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Collaborative, Consultative, and Research-Based Public Folklore Programming in Museum Contexts: A Professional Development Project to Strengthen the Work of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Traditional Arts Indiana, and the Michigan State University Museum

January 15, 2016
Mathers Museum to Host Smithsonian Exhibition on History of Indian Americans

April 11, 2016
Among Old Photos At Mathers Museum, A Researcher Finds His Ancestor

July 8, 2016
Public Discussion to Share Spirit of Mardi Gras in Conjunction with ‘Arts of Survival’ Institute

August 31, 2016
New First Thursdays Festival Puts the Focus on IU’s Arts and Humanities, Food and Fun

December 7th, 2016
Celebrating Elinor Ostrom and IU’s Continuing Engagement with China

December 8th, 2016
Continuing IU’s China Connection and Meeting the Global Needs of IU Students

Traditional Arts Indiana at Indiana University’s Mathers Museum

January 11, 2017
‘Quilts of Southwest China’ Showcases Tradition, Community, Identity at Mathers Museum

February 14, 2017
IU Bloomington’s Mathers Museum to Temporarily Close during Summer for Renovations
[PDF: 2017-02-14 MMWC Closure Release]

January 24, 2017
Interchange – Sharing Patchwork: The Quilts of Southwest China

February 27, 2017
China Remixed: IU Presents a 10-Week Culture Festival

April 26, 2017
Staff and Faculty: Enter to Win a Copy of ‘Quilts of Southwest China’ Book, See Exhibit

June 23, 2017
IU Students Learn Many Skills During Mathers Museum Internship

August 22, 2017
Mathers Museum Reopening after Summer Construction

October 11, 2017
The Day of the Dead Community Altar Welcomes Artifacts at Mathers Museum

November 3, 2017
Traditional Arts Indiana at IU Offers New Statewide Folk Art Apprenticeship Program

November 3, 2017
Mathers Museum of World Cultures Exhibit Offers ‘A Different Look at Syria’

November 28, 2017
New Position to Support Growth of Arts and Humanities at IU Bloomington

January 17, 2018
Contributions from the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project

February 20, 2018
Jason Jackson: Director, Mathers Museum

March 20, 2018
Mathers Museum of World Cultures Exhibit Centers on Aging, Imagination

March 30, 2018
Indiana University Mathers Museum Sisters of the Cloth Quilt Exhibit

April 2, 2018
Mathers Museum Offers More than Just an Exhibit to IU Freshman Laysha Hawkins

July 11, 2018
Mathers Exhibit Shares Memories through Historic Photos

Aug 29, 2018
Dying in Style: Mathers Museum to Give Talk about Fantasy Coffins

August 30, 2018
Fantasy Coffins Take Forms of Uterus, Basketball, Octopus

September 6, 2018
Fantasy Coffin Designer Paa Joe Bringing his Brand of Underground art to IUPUI, IU Bloomington

October 1, 2018
Traditional Arts Indiana at IU Launches New Award for Folk and Traditional Artists

October 5, 2018
Mathers Museum Exhibit Showcases ‘Fantasy Coffins’ From Ghana

October 11, 2018
Mexico Remixed will be IU Bloomington’s third annual Global Arts and Humanities Festival

November 5, 2018
Day of the Dead Celebration Kicks Off Mexico Remixed

December 12, 2018
IU Names Bicentennial Professors, Sets Goal of Faculty Presentations in All 92 Indiana Counties

Jan. 30, 2019
IU Center for Rural Engagement Launches New Rural Arts Series Offerings in Three Communities

March 29, 2019
Histories and Realignments: Museum Anthropology Review in a New Era

March 29, 2019
Traditional Arts Indiana’s Bicentennial Exhibition

March 29, 2019
Exhibiting Moments: Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures

March 29, 2019
Shapes of the Ancestors: Bodies, Animals, Art, and Ghanaian Fantasy Coffins

March 29, 2019
The American Folklore Society-China Folklore Society Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project, 2013-2016

May 9, 2019
Vodou Drums Symbolize Clash Between Climate Change and the Sacred in Haiti |
Mathers Museum of World Cultures Exhibition at IU Explores the Intersection of Humanity, the Divine and the Environment

June 11, 2019
Fossils, Flies and Fashion: Meet the Director Who Works with All University Collections

Aug. 12, 2019
Traditional Arts Indiana to Honor 2019 State Fair Masters

September 5, 2019
Themester 2019 Explores ‘Remembering and Forgetting’

September 10, 2019
At Home and Abroad: Reflections on Collaborative Museum Ethnography at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures

September 24, 2019
McRobbie: State of Indiana University is Strong, Innovative as it Prepares for Third Century

September 24, 2019
The State of Indiana University at the Bicentennial

September 25, 2019
IU President Announces New Museum During State of the University Address

October 11, 2019
Reclaiming a Culture: How IU is Helping an Indigenous Community Restore its Endangered Language

October 16, 2019
Mathers Museum of World Cultures celebrates Day of the Dead

Oct. 22, 2019
From the Desk: Creating the IU Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

December 4, 2019
Sacred Drums and Sustainability: A Curator’s Talk at the Mathers Museum

December 8, 2019
15th Annual Parranda Eelebrates End of Fall Semester

December 9, 2019
200-Year History of Bloomington Focus of Mathers Museum Exhibit

December 23, 2019
Advanced Visualization Lab Re-purposes Technology Across IU Campuses

Images of Native Americans exhibited at Mathers Museum

Mead Traveling Film and Video Festival Comes to Bloomington

This listing is very incomplete, even relative to materials available online in December 2019.
Does not included works of scholarship drawing upon MMWC resources.
Does not include event and exhibition notices.

Web Resources for Museum Job Seekers, Revisited

This semester I am teaching the undergraduate course Museums and Material Culture (FOLK-F440). The course combined an introduction to material culture studies with collections research projects at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. It is an intensive writing course and later today the students will turn in the drafts of the major individual research papers. Tomorrow’s class meeting is slated to be a discussion of careers in this sector.

In the spring, I am teaching Curatorship. I have taught this graduate course many times previously. Before each run of the course, I update my older (2012!!!) post on “Web Resources for Museum Job Seekers.” As a resource for the undergraduate course, I have done the update about a month early.

All the of the links have been rechecked and are working. As in 2018, I note that general services such as Indeed and LinkedIn play a growing role in connecting people to positions. But the specialized sites, often with positions circulated on social media, remain important. Find the newest version of the list at the old post, here:

Application Time: Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA)

It is time again for graduate students to consider applying to participate in the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA). Here are this year’s details, courtesy of the SIMA program leadership. (Quoting now.)

“The Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is a graduate student summer training program in museum research methods offered through the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History with major funding from the Cultural Anthropology Program of the National Science Foundation.

During four weeks of intensive training in seminars and hands-on workshops in the research collections, students are introduced to the scope of collections and their potential as data. Students become acquainted with strategies for navigating museum systems, learn to select methods to examine and analyze museum specimens, and consider a range of theoretical issues that collections-based research may address. In consultation with faculty, each student carries out preliminary data collection on a topic of their own choice and develops a prospectus for research to be implemented upon return to their home university. Instruction will be provided by Dr. Joshua A. Bell, Dr. Candace Greene and other Smithsonian scholars, plus a series of visiting faculty.

Who should apply?

Graduate students preparing for research careers in cultural anthropology who are interested in using museum collections as a data source. The program is not designed to serve students seeking careers in museum management. Students at both the masters and doctoral level will be considered for acceptance. Students in related interdisciplinary programs (Indigenous Studies, Folklore, etc.) are welcome to apply if the proposed project is anthropological in nature. All U.S. students are eligible for acceptance, even if studying abroad. International students can be considered only if they are enrolled in a university in the U.S. Members of Canadian First Nations are eligible under treaty agreements.

Costs: The program covers students’ tuition and shared housing in local furnished apartments. A stipend will be provided to assist with the cost of food and other local expenses. Participants are individually responsible for the cost of travel to and from Washington, DC.

SIMA dates for 2020: June 15 – July 10
Application deadline – March 1, 2020

For more information and to apply, please visit:


#AFSAM19: Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China

Notes on Basketry among the Dong People of Sanjiang County E

A title slide showing key project sites in the Dong areas of Guangxi and Guizhou.

Shreds and Patches has been quieter than usual as I work my way through a really complicated semester. In the midst of the jumble of unforeseen circumstances, there are some good things actually happening according to plan. One of these was the most recent in a series of panels at the American Folklore Society Annual Meetings reporting on the work of the museum partners in the China-U.S. Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project. Earlier this month, at the start of the 2019 meeting in Baltimore, members of our group, presented a panel on “Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China: Ethnographic Reports from the China-U.S. Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project.” This is the panel abstract:

In a three-year phase of the China-U.S. Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project, researchers from six museums have collaborated in a bi-national program of ethnographic research in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. In this panel, project participants will report on the research, sometimes emphasizing textile practices such as embroidery and basketry, sometimes focusing on heritage issues, sometimes discussing the lessons of the collaboration. The presenters will share their findings in accessible ways but China specialists may wish to know that research has taken place among the Dong people of Sanjiang County and the Baiku Yao people living in Nandan County.

Carrie HERTZ (Museum of International Folk Art) presented on “The Fabric of Life: Baiku Yao Textiles in Huaili Village.”

Hertz - The Fabric of Life

A title slide related to the textile arts of the Baiku Yao people of Nandan County, Guangxi.

FAN Miaomiao (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi) presented in absentia on “Field Research on Dong Textiles in the Tongle Area of Sanjiang County.”

Micah J. LING (Indiana University) shared her paper “Mijiu and Mai Wup: Trilingual Fieldwork and an Indigo Dying Method.”

LIANG Ziaoyan (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi), also presenting in absentia, shared her paper “Imagination and Enlargement: Daily Performance and Life History in Ethnographic Video.” Her paper focused on her experiences in our work in Sanjiang County.

C. Kurt Dewhurst (Michigan State University Museum) presented a paper that he and I, with help from ZHANG Lijun (George Mason University), worked on together titled: “Notes on Basketry among the Dong People of Sanjiang County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.”

I (Jason Baird Jackson, Indiana University) presented a paper for which Lijun was co-author. It was about “Building a Museum Collection of Work Baskets in Northern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.” The paper focused on the collection of baskets assembled for the collections of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

AFS2019 Jackson and Zhang C (Slides)

A slide evoking in basketry collected for the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

The session concluded with a presentation of a film by Jon Kay (Indiana University) titled “A Rice Basket: Basketmaking in a Baiku Yao Community” It is now viewable online on YouTube at:

This session, and one that preceded it in 2018, will be a springboard for more sustained writing by many project participants. We have learned much during our collaborative work in Guangxi. I thank many the local people in Nandan and Sanjiang Counties who have taught us and our hosts and partners at the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum, the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum, and the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi. Special thanks also go to The Henry Luce Foundation, the China Folklore Society, and the American Folklore Society for their support of the broader projects of which ours museum and material culture efforts are just a part.




Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage

It is a great moment for a great project. Some Shreds and Patches readers will remember when, in 2017, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures hosted the special exhibition A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. After debuting at the MMWC, this exhibition, developed in a partnership between the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (Sam Noble Museum) and the Osage Nation Museum, went on to be presented at the Osage Nation Museum. Now, the exhibition is on view, in an extended version, at the Sam Noble Museum. The Sam Noble Museum has organized a rich series of programs to accompany the exhibition, including a special community reception for citizens of the Osage Nation on November 1st. Dan Swan, the Interim Director and Curator for Ethnology at the Sam Noble Museum, served as lead curator for the exhibition.

Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community

Unboxing my copy of Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. October 21, 2019.

I return to this exhibition not only because it is now on display at its originating institution but because the book Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage, which stands alone but which also serves as a companion to the exhibition, has just been published by Indiana University Press in the Material Vernaculars series that I edit. The series has been a joint endeavor of the museum and the press. Wedding Clothes is the fifth title to appear in the series. As noted in other posts, MV titles are produced in paper editions sold by the press but also in free-to-readers versions shared digitally via the IUScholarWorks Repository. (It will may take a month or so for the free edition to be posted.) Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community was co-authored by Swan and Jim Cooley and includes a foreword by Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

My copy of the book arrived today and this is, hands-down, one of the most beautiful books that I have ever seen. IU Press went above and beyond with this one and it is really incredible to hold and to read as a book artifact. The book is filled with great images and they have been reproduced exquisitely on excellent paper. This is the first MV title to be printed in offset. That will not usually be possible with other MV titles, but in this case, with the exhibition and high Osage interest in play, the press was able to take this extra step. I urge everyone to find and enjoy a paper copy. Ideally purchase one. I know that $32 seems like a lot, but when you are holding this book, you will see and know that it is, unlike with so many academic titles, worth it.


Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community makes its debut at the IU Press booth at the 2019 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD. October 17, 2019.

The book is more than a pretty object though. It is a rich historical and ethnographic account of Osage life. I really hope that you will devote time to reading this book. The investment will be rewarded. Gift giving is a key theme in Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. I hope that you will receive the gift of this book.

(I will share news of the free edition when it is posted.)


Niwikanaki, nipakalawi pefitawiko. Nipekatefiwe Kekakikikemeta, Lenawaakiyayoki Wikewa, nihowesilepwa. Pilocilakwa, takosiye skoli hokimaki kotakiki Lenawaakiyayoki Wikiwa. Skoli hokimaki, peyetoki maci wayecisiki. Lenawaakiyayoki Wikiwa mata ninikani kiteni. Nepemikake’kikemo. Lenawaaki hina niwakota, niskata natamawi. Niyawe niwikaniki. Niyawe hokimaki. Niyawe hokimawikweki. Niyawe caki lenawaaki.


“Framing Sukkot” Author, Curator Gabrielle Berlinger to Speak at MMWC

At the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, we have already had some very special public events at this fall semester. If you’ve attended some of these events, you surely want to keep going with a good thing. If you’ve missed out so for, you have a chance to get in the groove with a number of upcoming programs. You can find the whole schedule on our website here:, but in this post I want to highlight our next Curator’s Talk, this time with Gabrielle Berlinger, Curator of the new exhibition Remembering the Ephemeral: the Ritual Architecture of Sukkot in Contemporary Life. Find the details in the flyer image below.

In addition to what the flyer notes, I will add that Professor Berlinger is an IU graduate who earned her PhD in Folklore, with a minor in Jewish Studies. She serves as an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Folklore and the Babette S. and Bernard J. Tanenbaum Fellow in Jewish History and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (see here for details). She is the author of a great book published in the Material Vernaculars series that the museum co-publishes with Indiana University Press. That book, titled Framing Sukkot, is described on the press’ website here: and a free-to-readers edition is available in IUScholarWorks: Gabi also generously serves on the museum’s Policy Committee.

Gabi is a great speaker and it will be wonderful to welcome her back to Bloomington and the MMWC. Please join us.


Aboriginal Bark Painting from Northern Australia

Not long ago, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures opened three new early fall exhibitions. I was happy to be the curator for the smallest of these. It is titled Aboriginal Bark Painting from Northern Australia and it will be open until December 22, 2019. If you can get to Bloomington, I hope that you will check it out. Here is the postcard….



“At Home and Abroad: Reflections on Collaborative Museum Ethnography at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures”

I am happy to note the publication of a paper in Museum Anthropology reporting on, and considering, the work of two collaborative projects of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at Indiana University. This piece is: Jason Baird Jackson (2019) “At Home and Abroad: Reflections on Collaborative Museum Ethnography at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.” Museum Anthropology 42 (2): 62-70.

Experiments in collaboration are at the heart of contemporary museum anthropology and museum folklore. If you are interested in issues of collaboration in museums of ethnography and world cultures, take note of the upcoming Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) biannual meeting being held in Santa Fe, New Mexico on the theme of “Museums Different” (September 19-21, 2019). [I wish I could go!] Collaboration was also the theme of the recent conference that the MMWC co-hosted with its partners in Beijing. The program of that conference on “Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies” is available online on the American Folklore Society website (see Conference Seven here).


I usually work hard not to publish behind a paywall. There were CMA-suporting reasons that I did so in this case. Be in touch if I can be of help on that score.

Delaware Indian Dance Rattles Made of Coconuts

The sixth most popular post on this website is a small item called “Coconut Rattles in Florida and Oklahoma.” I have no idea why this should be true (it is probably some accidental search engine optimization), but to satisfy hearty reader demand for more coconut rattle coverage, Jim Rementer shares here a bit of what he has learned over the years about coconut rattles among the Delaware people in Northeastern Oklahoma (Delaware Tribe of Indians) in the following guest post. Thanks to Jim for this post. –Jason

The Delaware Indians in Oklahoma made dance rattles from various materials. The main thing used in hand rattles was gourds, but at some time they found a new material to make rattles and that was coconut shells. These rattles were (and can be) used in dances like the Bean Dance (Malaxkwsitkan) and also by the men singers who accompanied the main singer who was using a water drum.

I have no idea when the Delawares started using coconut rattles nor how they cleaned them. I never thought to ask how they were made but this first one has a long bolt through the coconut and handle with a nut at the base of the handle (Figure 1). The one was made by James Thompson (1867-1964).

coconut rattle by Pop

Figure 1. A coconut shell rattle made by James Thompson (Delaware, 1867-1964).

This other rattle pictured here was also made by a Delaware named William Wilson (Figure 2).


Figure 2. A coconut rattle made by William Wilson (Delaware).

Here (Figure 3) is a photo of singers at a Delaware dance held about 1960 at the same place where the annual Delaware Days are still held. Ranny Carpenter appears to be using a coconut rattle but I cannot be sure if it is a coconut or gourd.”


Figure 3. A water drum and coconut shell rattle being used at a Delaware social dance, ca. 1960. The Delaware word for any kind of rattle is shuhënikan.



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