Tuesday, December 12, 12 – 1 pm

Join us for an author talk and book signing with Marcia G. Anderson and A Bag Worth a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag.

“Beautifully illustrated, carefully researched, and sensitively written, A Bag Worth a Pony is filled with valuable information about Ojibwe bandolier bags—gashkibidaagang—one of the great glories of Native North American beaded art and an important part of Ojibwe identity. The author uses historical writings, photographs, contemporary interviews, and analysis of technique and designs to accurately place the bags within their communities. Above all, Anderson conveys the spirit behind the bags by honoring the superb artistry of their (predominantly female) makers.” –LOIS SHERR DUBIN author of The History of Beads: 100,000 BC to the Present


Author Statement

“When I joined the staff as collections curator at the Minnesota Historical Society in 1981, my first project was to inventory and photograph thecollections. One day I opened a square storagebox to find several beautiful beaded bags, folded and piled haphazardly on top of each other—not a good situation for long-term care. I was surprised by their heft and drawn to their sheer beauty. This was my first encounter with a bandolier bag or gashkibidaagan.

I’m a material culture specialist I also love fabric, crafts, and women’s work. My work in anthropology and archaeology steeped me in the richness of American Indian culture.  So, these bags appealed to all of these interests and my access to the bags inspired me. The mass, visual beauty, and composition of the bags, seduced me.  As I learned more about them, the questions came quickly: Who were these inventive women, where did the concept of the gashkibidaagan come from, how did its status and popularity grow so quickly within the Ojibwe community, how did recognition and appreciation come so swiftly in white society, how were so many made, why have so many survived, and why are their origins still shrouded in relative mystery?

My 1997 video oral history with gashkibidaagan maker and elder Batiste Sam of the Mille Lacs Band was a highlight of my research.  Meeting all the bag makers and seeing the bags danced at pow wows has been the most remarkable chapter of the 30 year relationship I have had with these extraordinary objects.” – Marcia G. Anderson

Thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society Press

Marcia G. Anderson Bio

Native of Spokane, WA.  Retired 2011.
History and Anthropology BA from the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Museum Studies & Anthropology MA from the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Employed in various capacities at the Arizona State Museum.  John C. Fremont House Historic Site and Arizona Historical Society from 1972-1981. (Site Manager, Registrar, acting Curator, acting Docent Coordinator)
Head of the Museum Collections department at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul 1981- 2004.
Senior Curator October 2004 – 2010.  Collections subject area direct responsibilities included:
American Indian associated collections
Contemporary & historic arts & crafts

Recipient of the Charles E. Flandreau Scholar research fellowship (2009-2010) to complete the manuscript for a book on bandolier bags of the Ojibwe.


Ojibwe People’s Dictionary: A Language and Culture Resource
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Grant

Collections & Culture Consultant representing holdings of the Minnesota Historical Society

Creating increased access to American Indian objects from the Bishop Whipple Collections
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Grant
Principal Investigator (in tandem with colleague at the Science Museum of Minnesota)

Active as an author, lecturer, and consultant.

Served the American Association for State and Local History as a Nominating Committee member and as a Technical Leaflet reviewer. 

Served as a reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Museum Assessment Program.  Served as a National Endowment for the Humanities reviewer and panelist. Member of the 12 person committee that planned the Minnesota History Center ($72,000,000.00 facility) that opened in 1992.  Co-authored a successful National Endowment for the Humanities grant for $1,000,000.00 to properly relocate and store the object collections in that new facility.

Minnesota Historical Society exhibits curated include Red Wing Retro, Camera Ojibwe (co-curated with Diane Adams-Graf), and Selections from the Bishop Whipple Collection of American Indian Art (co-curated with Tilly Laskey-Science Museum of Minnesota).

Areas of particular career focus and expertise included implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) at the Society, Object Collections liaison to the Society’s Indian Advisory Committee, author of an award-winning essay on the Minnesota Arts & Crafts Movement of the early 20th century, expertise in printed cottons of the 19th-20th centuries, Ojibwe Indian bandolier bags, and recipient of the Minnesota Craft Council’s lifetime achievement award for work with Minnesota’s contemporary crafts community. Adjunct faculty at Metropolitan State University and St. John’s  University/College of St. Benedict and guest lecturer at the University of Minnesota focusing on Museum Studies and Public History.