Located in LY 107 (above water fountain, Dr. Archer Library 1st floor)
Tapestry (Tah-hah-sheena), c. 1971
Wool and linen
168” x 96”
University of Regina President’s Art Collection; pc.1971.2
The Sioux Handcraft Co-operative was a short-lived arts and crafts organization established on the Standing Buffalo First Nation in the Fort Qu’Appelle area in the late 1960s. The founding of the co-operative was spurred by a local settler woman. She observed that the women of the reserve retained their skills in historical Sioux designs and approached them with a proposal of how to use these skills in a contemporary media – rug hooking. Through this co-operative, the women were able to maintain a connection to historical design traditions and create income. Bernice Runns was a member of the co-operative.
The rugs were named Tah-hah-sheena, a Sioux word to describe decorated animal hides worn during ceremony and social gatherings. When not in ceremonial use, the hides were hung inside tipis providing additional insulation and aesthetic adornment. Designs used in the rugs were familiar designs formerly used to decorate tipis, clothing, tools, and ceremonial objects. Some of the designs produced by the co-operative were imbued with human qualities such as courage, strength, wisdom, and pain, and had a spiritual connection. Others were simply designs without deeper meaning developed aesthetically based on the artistic taste of the designer.
Geometric designs were historically created by women, while realistic designs were designed by men. Expanding on a tradition of using up all available materials and decorating utilitarian items, the rugs were sometimes backed on leftover burlap food sacks using scraps of fabric. The rugs at the University of Regina are backed in linen and woven with commercially available wool.
These non-ceremonial works were commissioned by the University in 1970. Designs and colours were selected by the committee from artists: Martha Tawiyaka, Marjorie Yuzicappi and Runns. There were a number of women employed in the construction of each rug and they worked under the supervision of the designer. Each rug is said to have a deliberate error to recognize that humans are inherently imperfect.