RTCFA No. NA0451c
Artist: Joyce Growing Thunder Birth: 1950
Beads, buckskin, metal, glass, 1.5 x 10.5 in. (3.81 x 26.7 cm).
Geographic Location: Ft. Peck Reservation, Montana
Group / Tribe: Assiniboine (Nakota)
/*Jim and Joyce both felt that I needed a more stylish way of presenting myself for Indian affairs: “You really ought to look right.” First I was sent the beaded buffalo belt buckle, in the next year (1985) I was told that I spent much too much time looking at my watch and clocks “very whitey” and the solution to that was to give me a watch, beaded in Indian style, but which had only a blank dial. The idea for this sendup originated soon after Joyce learned I had moved to Santa Fe. Jim telephoned, “since you are going to become a real westerner, Joyce is beading you a watch to keep with you. It will be elegant, she says, but it will have no hands and no face.” For a long time I never heard about the watch and one day in a telephone conversation I asked how it was coming along. Jim said, “Oh, Juanita’s been wearing that, she has it now down at the movies.” “Can you send it to me so that it arrives tomorrow,” I countered, “because we want to illustrate it in the catalogue to Lost and Found Traditions, it makes a point about us whiteys.” The watch duly arrived and was illustrated on page 37. It became part of the white man’s outfit when I wore it to the opening of Lost and Found Traditions at the American Museum of Natural History in 1986 and subsequently when wearing the outfit, I was to select any medallion that I wanted to wear with a dark turtleneck sweater and the Levi Jacket and beaded belt buckle. The original quilled medallion was traded by Joyce for the coat cited in NA0450c. In recent years, I have ceased to wear this outfit, because I don’t want to damage it. Juanita has already identically replaced the corduroy collar once. We made a trip to the Hobby Lobby in Albuquerque for the material, which is the way Indians operate in real life. I write this because of the way Indian life is associated with “new age” pap or pseudo spirituality. That repair trip to the Hobby Lobby was real! To me, this outfit retained a western elegance and a dressy informality together with a sly reference to Indianness that allowed me to wear it with no embarrassment. To my astonishment, my caregiver (wingman) Ray Davis found in perusing the Internet a reference to this particular watch and a drawing of it in Hope B. Werness book, The Continuum Encyclopedia of Native Art. One never knows when the Lost and Found Traditions re-surface, since its publication in 1986. From a serious joke and its presentation as a spur to go on Indian time rather than “whities” time, it has gained an unexpected currency as an object of time!*/ —Ralph T. Coe