Ninepipes Museum currently has on display several items used and made by the Mollman brothers, Louie and Charley, as well as two items made by Louie’s daughter, Mary Katherine. To learn more about the Mollman family, click here.
This rawhide war shield was made by Louie and is on loan at the museum from Bud Cheff, Jr. “The cross on it represents his strong Christian medicine. It also has his Indian medicine on it” according to Bud Cheff, Jr. It was given to Bud’s father by Louie, who always called him his “little Canadian Cousin” because their family had both come from Canada. Also on display are the bow and arrows belonging to his brother, Charley Mollman, on loan from Joe McDonald.
Although she had no children of her own, Mary Katherine (1874-1952), daughter of Louie and Philomie Mollman, “liked children and liked to tease and scare them as well as making gifts for them” says Bud Cheff, Jr. Click here to see a pair of child’s moccasins she made for Bill Engler when he was 3, and to the right is a coin purse she made for his uncle, Clarence Landquist (1912-1999).
Finally, these star-patterned beaded moccasins belonged to Louie Mollman and were also a gift to the Cheff family before Louie passed away in 1929. The cut of the shoe is the traditional style found so often on the Flathead Reservation with no seam on the insole. The beadwork on these moccasins is meticulously placed using the spot-stitch method commonly used by Plateau tribes. Although it is called the star design, the two-toned color gives it an almost three-dimensional look.
“Star” designs such as these are seen on other Salish beadwork among flowers, as though part of a bouquet. What else do you see? Note the blue line connecting the star (or flower?) to the ‘ground’ or the wearer. What does the symbol on these shoes represent that its maker would want the wearer to stay connected to? Could it be a spiritual connection, or maybe a connection to the past or where they came from (knowing they had roots in Canada)? One can only imagine the possibilities of the true meaning behind this thoughtful beadwork.
Masterfully designed and crafted beadwork is not just beautiful. It tells an important story through its visual imagery, animated by epic narratives that keep timeless and vital beliefs alive.” Author, Lois Sherr Dublin, The Visual Language of Beadwork, 2016 https://www.cowboysindians.com/2016/07/the-visual-language-of-beadwork/