Apsáalooke Crow artist’s Dress

Meet the Artists of Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists

A green dress with beads and red highlights.

Apsáalooke (Crow) artist, Dress, ca. 1930, cotton, bead, bone, skin, wool, and colorant, Denver Art Museum Collection: The L. D. and Ruth Bax Collection, 1985.46. Photograph © Denver Art Museum

Artist’s Language

Apsáalookbia iichíilihte iiláaxluk Iichíilikaashe iiluukáatluupe heeluupaakátek Iichíilihte iiláche balé 500 baaiíttaashtee akaáwa kóok Bíam iíttaashtee iichíilihte aakaaschik isbacheé isáake baachiiá kooíituk Hinné waapé iichíilihte koottáahili baaiíttaashtee aka awakóoshiisuk Iichíilihte kookísshe koohíleewialuk Apsáalookbia iiwalexíassaa iichíilihte kóok


Elk-tooth dresses like this one are important symbols of prestige for Apsáalooke women. Because they can have as many as 500 elk teeth meticulously sewn into the bodice, and because the maker only uses the two canine teeth of the bull elk, a dress like this reflects not only a woman’s sewing skills, but, as importantly, her male family members’ hunting prowess. Today, few elk-tooth dresses are made entirely from real teeth—there are acceptable commercial substitutions—but the dress endures as an object of significance and cultural pride.