The cross-and-crescent motif decorating this cap is a distinctly Western Apache symbol. It is the innovation of Daslahdn, a Western Apache medicine man until his death in 1907. Sometime in 1903, Daslahdn founded a new kind of religious dance ceremony, referred to as daagodigh, which was the result of a vision. The creation and meaning of the symbol is closely linked with that of daagodigh.
The photographer Edward Curtis was working in Arizona in the summer of 1906 and documented some important information in The North American Indian series relating to Daslahdn, the new movement and the cross-and-crescent symbol. Curtis relates that the meaning of the motif came to Daslahdn in a vision; "it represents the shape the new world will have and the road all must travel to reach it, and any who start on the journey without using this sign will be lost on the way" (Curtis, 1907, pp. 43-44).
The symbol is used on sacred and secular objects such as clothing, pollen sacks, metal amulets, medicine caps, moccasins, awl cases, buckskin pouches, T-necklaces, cradle boards, baskets, gourd, drinking cups, saddlebags and ritual hoops. It should be noted that medicine caps such as this one are the most common artifact decortated with the cross-and-crescent motif. For more information on the cross-and-crescent symbol see Ferg, 1998, pp. 70-88.