The Sami, sometimes called Lapps, are an indigenous European group who currently inhabit the northernmost regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and a small part of Russia. Our Sami collection of approximately 100 pieces is the largest in North America and possibly outside of Europe. The majority of the objects are utilitarian in nature, such as clothing and household objects, but there are some decorative pieces as well. The items were donated to the museum between the late 1800s and the 1990s.
In 1904, this mortuary totem pole was exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. It was apparently too fragile to journey back to Alaska, and therefore entered into the collection of the Milwaukee Public Museum. "Totem Poles" are appropriately called crest poles because they display family-owned symbols of a particular kinship group. Crests can be compared with the "Coats of Arms" of European noble families.
In 1858, Mr. S.L. Rood commissioned Samuel M. Brookes to complete a painting of a group of Menominee men. The names of the five men are written on the back of the canvas as follows: standing left to right, Na-a-nos-a-ko-sa, and Tik-ko; seated left to right, Ne-kun-a-quak, Kis-kan-a-koem, and Na-ke-wai-mi. Aside from its value as an excellent painting, this piece is invaluable because it clearly depicts the way that these men dressed, wore their hair, and represented themselves at that time.