16 Native breastplates

Native breastplates

Native American breastplates were originally worn for protection from arrows and spears. After the introduction of the bullet in the late 1600s, the breastplates had no purpose except to give the warrior a sense of personal strength. They were made of small animal or bird bones, or from shells and mollusks, fastened together by buckskin or leather. This one also has a pouch to store food, probably ground corn which could be mixed with water to make a meal. Elaborate beading and colored decorations showed wealth, position, and talismanic properties. It is likely this breastplate came from a Midwest Plains tribe, not our local Abenaki or Pennacook tribes.

Location: W1, Indigenous Cultures Gallery

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