from the Native
American Press/Ojibwe News
June 7, 2002
The Dakota Indians, who had been removed from Minnesota in 1863, began returning to the state after a generation of exile. They returned gradually, beginning in 1883, and settled near the site of the old Redwood Agency. In January of 1894, Miss Carter opened a school at the Lower Sioux Agency. Mary Whipple was in charge of the school until 1905, when Susan Salisbury, the bishop’s niece, took over. Miss Salisbury’s assistant was Mrs. Ameila St. Clair, the wife of the Reverend Henry St. Clair.
In addition to bedspreads which sold for as much as $1,000, the ladies at the Lower Sioux Agency made doilies, edgings, insertions and pillow cases. A pillowcase was purchased by the queen of England, who wrote a letter of recommendation on the work of the mission.
The lace work was of such excellence that Miss Carter was accused of peddling machine-made lace. To prove the lace was not machine-made, Miss Carter took Jeanette Crooks, who was a 17-year-old young woman at that time, to New York City to demonstrate that the lace was indeed, hand-made.
The lace made by the women on Minnesota Indian reservations probably did not become as popular as the Valenciennes lace but based on the two pieces of lace recently donated to the Minnesota Historical Society, the handiwork was equally as exquisite as the lace produced in France.
The story of the women who were involved in the
industry on the Lower Sioux Agency should be an inspiring story to
living on the reservation. However,
there is an ugly side to the story. The
only granddaughter of Jeanette Crooks Campbell has been fighting to be
enrolled. Lorraine (Marian) Bucholz,
now in her early eighties, was born and raised on the reservation along
her brothers but she is the only one of Jeanette’s grandchildren who is
not enrolled. However, her own children
are enrolled. It just does not make any
Detailed examples of lace made by
Dakota women at Bishop Whipple’s
mission near Morton in the late 1800s.
Lace courtesy of Maxine V. Eidsvig
[click on thumbnails for enlargements]