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Dorset's Lost Tribes


Anyone visiting the Native American Indian Exhibition currently taking place in the Edna Whisky McNightly Room of the Threadbone Gallery, Crendell will have been thrilled to discover Room 26 in which guest curator Gladys Nicholson-Passingcloud has courageously assembled an entire native village (4 wigwams, two totem poles, a "real" campfire and a skinned bison) in what has to be the most spectacular reconstruction yet attempted in a Dorset Regional Museum.


Chief Thrupipeofpiece with horse c 1897)

Drawn as the visitor's eye must inevitably be to this coup de gallerie, the more discerning anthropological gaze will surely fall on Room 83 in which is to be found treasure of even more inestimable worth. Here - on view for the first time outside its home the Metropolitan Museum, Fishbourne - is the group of objects associated with Dorset's own legendary Native Indian Chief, Chief Rainbird Thrupipeofpiece - last survivor of the Shitterton Sioux.

Hidden amongst the artefacts, visitors should seek out Chief Thrupipeofpiece's pocket trouser pouch, Parker fountain pen (a gift from the Dorset Regional Authorities at conclusion of the 1897 Motcombe Wars - the pen is believed to be the one used to sign the Peace Treaty itself after the Upcerne pow-wow), fluff-ball collection, moccasins (size eleven and a half), nose probe and equine cleats. Only then should he or she proceed to Room 84 (until recently home to the Dorset Socialist Realism Exhibition) to meet the great chief face-to-face in two magnificent portraits recently commissioned from photographs by distinguished Dorset artist Sheesa Krappe-Kopia. Depicting Chief Thrupipeofpiece both as a young boy and as a wizened old man, the cumulative effect of the two images is, without question, deeply moving. "We see optimism and possibility giving way to sadness and resignation", Mrs Nicholson-Passingcloud opines, "It's not surprising really", she continues, "I mean 50 cigarettes a day, two litres of firewater and a tendency to dwell on things, isn't likely to keep a man in a great frame of mind"... "I once met someone who had encountered him as an old man and I suggested that the Chief must have been full of fascinating stories. He told me the only thing he had said of interest was that he couldn't believe Parson's Pleasure hadn't romped home in the 2.15 at Uttoxeter and he was ten quid down on the day already... Still he was a great man. No question."

The Exhibition continues until 18 December.


The Native American Indian Exhibition currently taking place in the Edna Whisky McNightly Room of the Threadbone Gallery, Crendell offers a fascinating insight into life amongst the lost tribes of the Dorset Native American Indians.

The Native American Indian Exhibition currently taking place in the Edna Whisky McNightly Room of the Threadbone Gallery, Crendell offers a fascinating insight into life amongst the lost tribes of the Dorset Native American Indians.


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