The “Many Hands” shirt was made around 1910 by Bessie Black Horn, wife of Chief Daniel Black Horn of the Oglala Lakota. Chief Black Horn traveled extensively with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and other shows in the first few decades of the 20th century. He went to Europe several times and, though he spoke no English, met many members of European royal families and government officers, with whom he had to shake hands. When he returned home, he told Bessie of these “many handshakes.” She made the shirt to honor this peculiar greeting style.
Chief Black Horn was a grown man at the time, so he could not serve as a model for the hands. He and Bessie were taking care of their young grandson when she designed the shirt, so they used the young boy’s hands as the template. That young boy was Stella Iron Cloud’s father!
Read more about the “Many Hands” shirt in the SAPIENS article from May 2017, Reuniting a Family and an Heirloom
Dominique Alhambra, MA
Anthropology Collections Manager and NAGPRA Coordinator
Stephen E. Nash, PhD
Senior Curator of Archaeology and Director of Anthropology
Michele Koons, PhD
Associate Curator of Archaeology
Erin Baxter, PhD
Acting Curator of Anthropology