THE HOOVER-WALKER COLLECTION
When in autumn of 1933 Henry Oscar One Bull (nephew and companion of the notable Hunkpapa Lakota Chief, Sitting Bull) formally adopted one Margaret Hoover as his daughter, undoubtedly he did so only after considerable prior reflection, deference, and purposeful intent on his part.
Traditionally, American Indians have always considered adoption into a given tribe or family as a demonstrative way in which to express their high regard for an individual. Never taken lightly, Indian adoption at times served to replace a deceased relative, whether or not the adoptee actually resided with the adopters. However, the adoption ceremony perhaps more commonly bestowed great honor on an individual not only for his or her character, but also for active involvement with, and heartfelt interest in the adoptive group.
Indians have always been keen observers. No doubt One Bull (who at the time was one of the few remaining Lakota participants in the Battle of the Little Bighorn) and his people had long observed Margaret Hoover as she moved among, and interacted with them. In addition to being a widely known social worker, as well as the secretary of the Perkins County chapter of the American Red Cross, Margaret was the wife of the Rev. George W. Hoover, who over a period of time was the Baptist pastor for the White Butte, Lemmon, and nearby Sioux and non-Indian communities in North Dakota and South Dakota. She undoubtedly would have associated closely with, and gained the respect, even admiration, of many Lakota.
As significant as her adoption into a Lakota family of the highest standing, One Bull remarkably conferred on Margaret the name carried by his own mother (the oldest of Sitting Bull's two sisters) - Wiyaka Wastewin (pron. WEE-ya-ka wash-TAY-wee(n) - Good Feather Woman. The name is also translatable as Pretty Feather(s) Woman, Beautiful Feather(s) Woman, or as one newspaper gave it - "Lady Pretty Plume."
In fact, several period newspaper articles retained by the Hoover and Walker families relate Margaret's adoption into the One Bull family. One (dated October 26, 1933) reads in part, "One Bull, tribal chief and nephew of Sitting Bull, conducted the ceremonies in the Indian tongue and received Mrs. Hoover as his 'child.' ... More than 100 Indians and whites were present at the ceremonies which were interpreted by George White Bull." Another article states that everyone was entertained at a sumptuous feast furnished primarily by Chief White Bull's family.
Turning to the collection itself: during the early reservation period, agents, ecclesiastics and others - even some military personnel, often associated regularly with Indian people. Numbers even developed close friendships, and thus had ample opportunity to witness and/or to participate in many types of gatherings, such as naming ceremonies, dances, dedications, and even funerals. Give-Aways were virtually always a part of these gatherings. It was not difficult for these non-Indian friends to acquire examples of local material culture. Items of porcupine quillwork, beadwork, and other traditional Indian arts were commonly presented to individuals at the Give-Aways. Surely through the years, Margaret Hoover/Wiyaka Wastewin - now viewed as a daughter of a celebrated Lakota Chief, would have been a frequent recipient of "tokens of occasions." Likewise, she could have received articles as expressions of gratitude for favors granted to individuals and families.
Perhaps Margaret purchased some things outright, for like most Indians of the time the Lakota continually produced objects for their own use, as well as for commercial purposes. Such objects as parfleches, "possible bags," and all manner of pouches, as well as articles of clothing (including moccasins and accessories) - all typical gifts at Give-Aways, and generally available for purchase, are represented in this collection.
Of particular note are a fully-beaded pictorial baby carrier with geometric and horse figures, and a particularly beautiful man's vest and trousers of lightly smoked buckskin elaborately decorated with stylized floral/foliate porcupine quillwork. In addition, a unique Sioux man's breastplate decorated with quillwork and round mirrors, a bandolier bag and a man's dance "yoke" fully beaded with floral and foliate motifs - both from one of the Western Great Lakes tribes. The Hoover-Walker Collection also includes a number of Sioux beaded and quilled tobacco bags typical of the era, and several model warclubs with bead-wrapped handles.
Benson L. Lanford
1 May 2006