Buffalo/Steer Horn chair – circa 1895 – Horn, horsehair, brocade – Plains Native

This spectacular specimen of a buffalo horn chair was originally purchased at a railstop in Montana by a family coming west to settle outside of Seattle in the late 1890’s. These kinds of chairs were frequently made by natives of the plains tribes and this example follows a design attributed to the Cree tribe. The natives would collect buffalo horn, trade for fine fabrics and build this kind of souvenir to sell to the wide eyed wandering white men and women following ‘manifest destiny’ and Horace Greeley’s emphatic plea to ‘Go west, young man!’ in search of a better life. As one might imagine, not too many of these were made and even fewer survive today. This example was reupholstered in the late 1920’s in a near match of the original fabric and is as tight as the day it was first sold on the wooden platform of the rail station and under a cloud of black smoke from the coal fired engine.