One of my favorites is a handmade wedding dress that was produced by the late Maisie Shenandoah, Clan Mother of the Oneida Indian Nation. The wedding dress was made for her relative Butch Laydem’s fiancée, Kay Kayser, of the Schaghticoke tribe, which spanned the area of the Houstonic Valley and northwestern Connecticut. Like many tribes and ethnic groups over time, the Schaghticoke have worked as laborers, servants, and basket makers, which further illustrates the unique traditions of handmade work.
Among the many intriguing features of this dress is its material; the smooth, white doeskin is a striking contrast against the blue and white necklace that graces the neckline. The fringe that adorns the dress flows beautifully along the bodice, and intricate roping on the accompanying moccasins has a definite sense of flair. It is interesting to witness the beauty of a dress that is unlike what most contemporary brides would wear, though amazingly, it was constructed merely 25 years ago. I can only image the pride and joy the bride felt upon wearing this well-preserved piece of history.
We would like to thank the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut for lending this gorgeous dress for our exhibition.
Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories runs until October 24. There’s an object for every interest, an intriguing story for every corner of Connecticut, and something new to discover for everyone.
About Sierra Dixon
Sierra Dixon is a Research and Collections Associate for the Connecticut Historical Society, where she catalogs books, provides imaging services and serves the public in the Waterman Research Center. She has been with CHS since 2006, when she began as an intern for the graphics and museum collections departments before transitioning into exhibit research and customer service. Sierra holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Hartford, and enjoys reading, writing, and nail art in her spare time.