We-no-na – Photo from Paris

Here is the second photo received from our secret admirer.
I hope my readers enjoy this photo as much as I do!

Document

We-no-na in Paris with the American Circus c1867 (front & back)

Document Close-up

We-no-na in Paris with the American Circus c1867 (front & back)

Review of Images

We-no-na in Paris with the American Circus c1867 (front & back)
1867_We-no-na_engraving

Discussion
Oh, my. I guess I know where the engraving came from. Very little difference between the photo and the engraving. However, between the two, I get a nice look at some interesting details.
This is certainly not the type of clothing I would expect to see on a woman from an Oregon tribe. I would classify the clothing as Eastern Woodland, but beyond that it is difficult to assign a specific tribe or group of tribes.
I can’t see enough detail in the moccasins or leggings to form an opinion about the type of decoration or origins. In the photo, the leggings do appear to be decorated with bands of large beads and alternating color panels.
The skirt uses several bands of ribbon to decorate the lower border. Ribbon work is common over a wide region from the Canadian Maritime Provinces through the Northeast and all around the Great Lakes, and includes the Ojibwa, Iroquois, and Wabanaki groups. I don’t recognize the large odd shaped graphics within the skirt border.
The decoration at her left wrist could be either a wristband or the cuff of a blouse worn under a jacket. Just not enough detail to know which.
The tomahawk is a very poor prop and the cane in the engraving  probably exists only in the artist’s mind.
Her jacket or blouse is very unusual. I can’t decide if it is one piece or two. Does it button all the way up the front or are the buttons just a decorative band along a clothing edge? The border of the jacket is decorated with a wavy stem and alternating roses (or some similar flower blossom). It is not a common decoration but is suggestive of older designs seen on some Wabanaki items. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Iroquois groups briefly used roses in their beadwork but I have searched everywhere and can not find the reference now. Maybe I am imagining it. The photo resolution makes it impossible to determine if the border decoration in beadwork or embroidery.
It’s difficult to tell from either image what is going on in the area around her neck. The resolution of the photo is poor but I can make out a number of necklaces. Everything blurs together as I try to following the necklaces up towards her neck.
On her visible shoulder I can see what appears to be the outer edge of a decorative collar or yoke. This is definitely suggestive of known Wabanaki styles, although it is usually found on men’s coats. On the other hand, what I am seeing could be the shoulder strap of a bag hanging out of sight on her right side.
She wears dangling earrings and her long dark hair appears to be wavy. Perhaps she usually wears it in a braid.
Her head gear is also very unusual. The crown-like appearance is similar to a style found mostly among Iroquois show-biz folks of later years. The choice of feathers tells a lot! I don’t think they have ostriches in Oregon or New England. This head-piece is definitely made to impress the audience.
Speaking of the audience, I can not image what part We-no-na played in the circus?
U-ta-wa-un could always play the part of a clown, assist with the animals, or move props around. His outfit allows him freedom to move in a way you expect circus folk to move. We-no-na on the other hand is not dressed for running around a circus ring. This is not a carnival, so I don’t think they would have a fortune teller or Indian Doctoress booth. Basket making as an activity does not lend itself to the hustle and bustle of the circus ring. I don’t see her performing on horseback dressed like this. If any of my readers have a good theory, I certainly would love to hear it.
If this is Marleah, perhaps she acted as the doctor for the troupe or perhaps a cook or some other behind the scene jobs to earn her keep.
My best chance of proving this is Marleah is to locate additional images of her and make comparisons. I know she traveled with U-ta-wa-un at various times and their ads often mention they are in Native costume, so it is very likely there are photos of her in the states out there just waiting to be found. Now, all I have to do is find them ;-)

 

See the Kanistanaux Home Page for more.
See the Kanistanaux Map at Google.
Do you have any information to add or questions?
Please leave a comment.
Canyon Wolf 
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Categories: 1867 Paris Universal Exposition, Documentation, Entertainments, Family-Kanistanaux, Wabanaki | Tags: , , , , , ,

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