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Nellie Two Bears Gates


Dec 15, 2021

Nellie Two Bears Gates (Dakota: Maȟpíya Boǧáŋwiŋ, ca. 1854–1935) was a Native American artist whose beadwork depicted Yanktonai Dakota history and culture.[1] Beaded suitcases and valises that she gave as gifts are now part of art collections and exhibitions.

Native American bead artist

. . . Nellie Two Bears Gates . . .

Nellie Two Bears Gates was born in 1854[2] on the traditional land of the Yanktonai IháŋktȟuŋwaŋnaDakota which lay between the Missouri and James River in what is now North and South Dakota.[3] Her Dakota name was Mahpiya Bogawin, meaning “Gathering of Clouds Woman.” She was the eldest child of Chief Two Bears (d. 1878 or 1879) and his fourth wife, Honkakagewin.[4]

At the age of seven, Nellie was taken from her family and placed in a Catholic boarding school at St. Joseph, Missouri where she stayed for eleven years.[5] At school Nellie excelled academically and became fluent in English and French.[6] In 1863 when she was nine and still at boarding school, her family’s village was attacked and destroyed at the Battle of Whitestone Hill.[1] Her father Chief Two Bears was one of the signers of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) and settled at Standing Rock Reservation.[2] At 18 Nellie returned to live with her family at Standing Rock after which she exclusively spoke the Dakota language.[7]

. . . Nellie Two Bears Gates . . .

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. . . Nellie Two Bears Gates . . .