A number of the objects collected by the Hudson's Bay Company for its museum collection in the 1920s and 1930s were ethnographic objects. The intent was to represent how people had lived prior to the coming of the Hudson's Bay Company and trying to emphasize the way that the Hudson's Bay Company and trade goods had changed the lives of Indigenous people in Canada.
A really fine example of this Indigenous art is the moose skin coat collected by John Halkett, one of the Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company, probably in 1822 on his visit to Red River.
This coat is a particularly fine example of a style of garment, there's about maybe 25-30 of them in the world that are very much following a European pattern, basically a frock coat pattern, but were made by Indigenous people, made probably by a Métis or Cree woman at that time.
It's beautifully decorated with porcupine quills that has painting on it. It shows a lot of the elements that are seen as being typical of later Métis art, hide art, and textile art, but a very very early well documented example of this, definitely a treasure.
From a slightly later period than the moose hide coat collected by Halkett is this Cree hood that is made strictly with trade materials. The hoods were typical of the clothing worn by Indigenous people in the prairie area. They were obviously necessary to keep people warm in winter, keep rain off, keep snow off, etc.
In this case it's a beautiful example of how a very practical object has been made with trade goods. It's typical also of how into the mid-nineteenth century, the effect of the Hudson's Bay Company and the trade goods was becoming more and more prevalent. Things were becoming more conventionalized, you find that Indigenous people are adapting their material culture to use more and more of the products that were brought in by the Company and traded to them.
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