Helbing Collection A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week for 26 weeks, I will highlight an item or items from our Helbing Collection of Native American Arts and Crafts.
This week we will look at another of my favorite items. (Yes, I have a lot of favorites.) These turtle shell leggings often catch the eyes of our visitors, they are very popular on school tours. In fact, I remember being fascinated by the turtle shells when I toured the museum as a child.
These leggings or shackles are worn by Creek women during the “Stomp Dance” of the Green Corn Festival to keep rhythm as the community dances. Cleora explains it well in her notes:
“This pair of dancing leggings, worn by the Creek Indian women, are made from brown Indian tanned leather and measure 13.5 x 8.5 inches. On each of the leggings, which are strapped with thongs to the leg below the knee, are four baby turtle shells filled with small pebbles which rattle in movement. When all the Creeks dance and get the right rhythm, it is quite beautiful. These dancing leggings were given to me by Mrs. MacIntosh. Her daughters were very fine women employees in the Indian Bureau.”