Marilyn Spoon, Bandolier Bag

Marilyn Spoon (Sac and Fox Nation), Bandolier Bag, 2020, broadcloth, silk ribbon, glass beads, bells, and cotton (First Americans Museum). A conversation between Dr. heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw Nation) and Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank


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Marilyn Spoon, Bandolier Bag

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Key points

  • This beaded bandolier bag was made by Sac and Fox Nation citizen and textile artist Marilyn Spoon. The Sac and Fox Nation is one of thirty-nine Native nations located today in the state of Oklahoma. Most of these distinctive groups were forcibly relocated to this area, deemed Indian Territory, by the United States government in the late nineteenth century. 
  • This bag was commissioned by the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma, in consultation with leaders of the Sac and Fox Nation. It features beadwork that, on bags of this type and size, had ceased to be practiced in recent decades due to the time and level of difficulty it requires. The floral design is a family pattern and the colors represent six of the Sac and Fox clans active in Oklahoma today.
  • Bandolier bags have been created and used by a variety of Indigenous communities for generations. The bags have a single pouch and a wide strap, allowing them to be worn across the body. This sizable bag was intended to carry a feast bowl, which is made large enough to hold enough food to feed an entire family.

Go deeper

Watch Marilyn Spoon describe the bandolier bag and the work of making it (from the First Americans Museum).

More to think about

By creating this bandolier bag, Marilyn Spoon represents her Sac and Fox culture and tribe to people outside of her community. She chose to make an item that includes colors, design, materials, techniques, and functionality that have a long history with and meaning for the Sac and Fox. If you were asked to make something that represented your culture in this way, what would you make and why?

Explore the diverse history of the United States through its art. Seeing America is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.