Crow Women’s Regalia and Doll Making
Birdie Real Bird is a member of a talented, well-regarded family on the Crow Reservation in south central Montana. As a master in the Montana Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, she taught traditional Crow-style women’s belt making to a group of students over the winter of 1997-98. It was so popular that several other women joined and she voluntarily extended her teaching by several weeks. When her mother Lucy died in 1998, Birdie started to make Crow-style dolls in her honor to pass on to future Crow people the knowledge of the traditional women’s attire she had worn everyday: a calico cotton dress with a shawl, leather belt and high top moccasins. After learning to make human-size, then doll-size Crow moccasins, Birdie began to make dolls using the traditional materials: buckskin stuffed with buffalo hair for the doll forms. The faces and attire are completed with beads, sinew, buckskin and other materials. Birdie now makes both male and female dolls. Two of them were purchased by the Smithsonian for the National Museum of the American Indian. She has also represented Montana at Northwest Folklife Festival in 2006.