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Minnesota Artists

Anishinabe and Dakota: Trade and Tradition
Anishinabe/Dakota<br><i>Dance blanket</i>, 1840-50<br>Wool, silk, beads<br>Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br>The Robert J. Ulrich Works of Art Purchase Fund
Dance blanket, 1840-50
Wool, silk, beads
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Robert J. Ulrich Works of Art Purchase Fund


In the mid-1800s, the Anishinabe (Ojibwe) and Dakota peoples were still the main inhabitants of the land that would soon become the state of Minnesota. Skilled artisans, they adorned many belongings with designs and patterns drawn from the landscape around them. European-American settlers moving westward across the continent traded goods such as cloth and beads with the native peoples—and also brought examples of arts like quilting. The Anishinabe and Dakota quickly blended the new materials and techniques with their own artistic traditions.

This blanket is made of wool cloth, beads, and silk ribbon, all obtained through the fur trade. It was created by an artist (or possibly several artists) expert in needlework, who decorated the cloth with meticulous beadwork and ribbonwork. You can see the influence of European-American quilting in the ribbonwork designs appliquéd along the blanket’s edge. Appliqué (ap-luh-KAY) refers to sewing separate pieces of fabric decoration onto a larger cloth.

The blanket was made by one or more people of the Anishinabe (Ojibwe) and Dakota communities. Its history can be traced to some of the region’s early fur traders, the prominent LaFramboise (la–fram–bwaz) family. According to family lore, the blanket was owned by Jane Dickson LaFramboise, a woman of Anishinabe/Dakota descent whose father had a good relationship with the Dakota. Jane’s husband, Joseph LaFramboise, had established one of the first trading posts in what would later be Minnesota. It is said the blanket was used at their marriage in 1845.

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1. The circular beaded motif in the center of the dance blanket comes from traditional Native American floral designs.
2. Ribbonwork recalling the European-American quilting tradition decorates the border of the blanket.
3. Like the blanket, this bandolier bag features floral designs inspired by nature.
Anishinabe (Ojibwe), Bandolier bag, 1890-1910, cotton, beads, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Frances M. Norbeck Fund


March 2009