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Beaded Coat

Curated Submission
Behchoko, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
82 x 59
Materials & techniques
Caribou hide, beads, fox fur, silk; Leather work, velvet, sewn, beaded
Frances Richardson
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 979.025.002
This ornate coat was made for Tlicho Chief Alexis Arrowmaker (1920–2005) to wear during the Treaty Day payment ceremony in July 1975. It is a man’s jacket made of smoked caribou hide with a stand-up collar and yoke of beaded black velvet and trimmed with white fox fur. Seamstress Frances Richardson carefully matched the floral beadwork designs on the front of the coat.
The coat is patterned after historic Dene chiefs’ coats of the late 19th century, a period when clothing styles changed with the introduction of new European materials and styles. While many pieces of traditional aboriginal clothing were replaced, coats made in this style allowed Dene to combine design elements of both cultures. The coats gained popularity because of the prestige associated with the style. Dene men dressed in their best coats at Easter and Christmas, for other special events like trips to town, and for political meetings. The 1975 Treaty Day in Behchoko was a significant celebration accompanied by speeches, feasting, hand games, and tea dances. The Treaty Party dressed in clothing to reflect 1921, the year that Treaty 11 was signed at Behchoko (formerly Fort Rae).
Arrowmaker was a prominent Grand Chief and political leader for the Tlicho Nation. He was one of a group of elders who worked toward the Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Agreement, which came into effect in August 2005.
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