History Nebraska Blog

Native American Heritage: Artifact Collections

This is a look at our Native American artifacts and are just a handful of the collections that include information about the past and present influences of Native Americans in Nebraska.


Cheri Becerra-Madsen's wheelchair as part of the "Nebraska Unwrapped" exhibit


Olympian and Paralympian Cheri Becerra-Madsen used this racing wheelchair. Becerra-Madsen is from Nebraska City. An unknown virus attacked her spine when she was four, leaving her paralyzed. She began competitive wheelchair racing in 1994. In 1996 Cheri competed in both the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Atlanta. She won an Olympic bronze medal for the 800 meter exhibition race, the first American Indian female to win an Olympic bronze. She also won a silver and two bronze medals at the Paralympic Games that year. In 2000 she won one silver and two gold medals and broke two world records at the Paralympic games in Sydney, Australia. She also competed in the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro and won a silver medal in the 400-meter race. Read more here.    

 11894-1 - Quilt, Morning Star, "Red Cloud's Contemporary Robe"


11894-1 Made by Lula Red Cloud, the great-great granddaughter of Chief Red Cloud. The quilt was made to cover the bust of Red Cloud when he was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame, March 22, 2001.

We also have  some objects that are believed to have belonged to Red Cloud, like this pectoral ornament:

Pectoral Ornament, German Silver; Engraved


  We have 316 pairs of moccasins in the collection. Here are some highlights:

8634-72-(A-B) Quill floral style


Quills of porcupines, and even some birds, were dyed and then flattened for decorative use.  Quills can be flattened by drawing them through teeth, or by using a quill flattening tool that could be made of bone, antler or in later periods metal.




This pair of moccasins contains both beadwork and quillwork.   This pair is believed to have been collected on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the early 1900s.



This pair of moccasins was donated by Pearl Campbell Essex, who was a member of the Omaha tribe. In addition to beads, yarn was used to decorate these moccasins.



This pair of moccasins was made by Lydia Morris Johnson, Macy, Nebraska August 27, 1938. In addition to glass beads, the moccasins are decorated with red and blue yarn.

 93-(1-2) - Pawnee quill moccasins




Moccasins collected by Lily B. Monroe. Monroe worked as a teacher on the Rosebud reservation from 1900-1905, and may have acquired this there.   Some of the items in her collection were presented to her, others she sent to members of her family as gifts.

 8634-43-(A-B) - Floral style



 10921-30-(1-2) - ON DISPLAY NOW as part of the "Nebraska Unwrapped" exhibit


Stadia Basketball  high top sneakers. Made by Comes, Jody;  Pine Ridge, around 1992.  These aren’t moccasins, but are a really neat example of beaded footwear.  Interested in seeing more Native American artifacts? Visit the Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall N., Lincoln, or browse our collections here.              

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