Owns a Yellow Shield was a leader of the Crow Owners society and later of the White Horse Owners. As head man of the Crow Owners, he was allowed to carry a large bone whistle as a badge of his office. During war he would lead the charge while blowing his whistle to indicate battle strategy. One side of the necklace has a wotawe (medicine) bundle for Wakinyan (Thunder Being) where red represents Lightning and blue as Thunder. Unusual is the added fringed buckskin over the wrapped beading. The extra-long bone whistle is from some bird living near water, associated with Wakinyan. Leaders of various societies used wing bones from different birds as whistles, according to information given to Lewis and Clark, to give different tones for its followers to hear. Added to the end of the whistle are yellow strips of cloth for the four directions, quill-wrapped strips and short crow feathers.
From a German museum came this Crow society doughnut-shaped rattle of buffalo rawhide, rubbed with red ochre. Around the curve of the rattle are short crow feathers, free to move as this rattle was swung sideways during ceremonies. The Brave Heart society had a similar rattle.
From the Owns a Yellow Shield family came a round rattle, made of two pieces of rawhide sewn together.
The necklace of horse teeth was worn by members of the White Horse Owners society. Presumably the teeth came from owners' horses that were wounded in battle and died later. The power of the necklace was believed to come from the bravery of the horses and the blue and red beads representing the Thunder Being. The beaded circle at the bottom represents the Sacred Hoop to the Lakota. At a later time a 1870 French coin, captured during a fight, was added as medicine.
A medicine bag to contain a 14 bear claw necklace was made from a recycled grizzly hide, with its hair cropped. There are several slits near the fur top, indicating it had a drawstring to close it before a colorfully-beaded top was added. The shape of the bag is believed to represent a bear's head.
The bag came with a wrapped cloth rubbed in red ochre to indicate blood and faint outlines of four different Lakota women's dresses. This covered a wooden female doll with dark patina, indicating it was carved long ago. The braids carved at the back of the figure depict it is a woman. This medicine piece was used to doctor problems of women. We do not know if Owns a Yellow Shield or his wife doctored with this doll.
During meetings of the White Owners, the occasion began with a smoking of the calumet pipe. This required inserting the one end with hair into the mouth. The hair represented the Thunder Being and it was believed the smoker would die if he did not keep his promise. In addition to the porcupine quill plaiting, human hair dyed blue adorns the mid-section. The accompanying tobacco bag held smoking material.
By Larry Belitz, Plains Indian Material Culture Consultant