Custer's Beaded Leather Gauntlets Donated to Custer Battlefield Museum
GARRYOWEN, Mont., June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Christopher Kortlander, founding director of the Custer Battlefield Museum, announced today that General George Armstrong Custer's red, white, and blue beaded, buffalo hide gauntlets, which were removed from Custer's body following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, have been donated to the Museum's collection for permanent display.
Kortlander disclosed, "These amazing gauntlets have been privately held and passed down through Native American hands since they were removed from the Battlefield 136 years ago today. On behalf of The Custer Battlefield Museum, we are deeply honored to accept this historic gift."
According to oral history, the gauntlets were beaded for Custer by the Sioux with a design, which helped identify Custer, who was a friend to some Native American tribes. Following Custer's death, the gloves were reportedly taken from his body by a Sioux woman, believed to be the wife of a Sioux chief, and later returned to the Sisseton Sioux who beaded them.
Tom Greenwood, an early Native American activist and advocate, who helped to create the Indian Services League of Chicago in the early 1950's, received the gauntlets from his father in 1938 (Greenwood's grandfather was a Chief of the Sisseton Sioux tribe.) Greenwood strictly adhered to the instructions of the Sisseton Sioux that the gloves never be allowed to be touched or possessed by any agency or representative of the federal government. In the late 1940's, Greenwood passed the gauntlets to a Native American friend and colleague Richard Becker, who then passed them on to Richard Jorgensen in 1982. This transfer took place in the Healing Waters area of Southwest Illinois as part of an Indian ceremony, which occurs when sacred Native American items are re-located.
Mr. Jorgensen held the gauntlets in safekeeping for the next 30 years, until he learned about the non-profit Custer Battlefield Museum. He felt the gauntlets' proper place was among the museum's outstanding collection, where they will be on display for public viewing. Mr. Jorgensen remarked, "Now that I've reached 74 years old, ideally, it's time to pass them on."
The gauntlets, one of a few known items of General Custer's personal effects taken from the historic Battlefield, feature a large star on the cuff of each glove, signifying Custer's previous military rank, with red, white, and blue beadwork surrounding each star. Showing moderate wear and a dark stain on the left glove that is purported to be Custer's blood, the gauntlets will be prominently featured in the Museum's display. The gauntlets can be seen at the Custer Battlefield Museum or online at www.custermuseum.org.
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