This pair of sparsely fringed women's buckskin leggings is painted with yellow ochre. There is a band of lazy stitch beading on each leg, around the top and along the side. The geometric design uses red, yellow, green and blue beads on a white background. At the bottom of each legging are tin tinklers with red-dyed horsehair tufts hanging from wide end. Each legging is pieced together with three pieces of buckskin. The leggings lace together with thongs at the sides.
Thomas McKee (1854-1930)
Thomas M. McKee was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Nashville, TN. He trained as a photographer, but also often worked as a railroad express messenger and had interests in paleontology. He found his way to Montrose, CO in 1890 to set up a photography studio. He is believed to be one of the first photographers to take X-ray pictures. He introduced western Colorado to moving pictures in 1895.
He photographed Mesa Verde and much of the local mining activity. In the early 1900s he turned his interests to documenting the daily lives of Ute people in photographs. He also began to collect Ute artifacts and amassed one of the largest Ute collections in the United States. He was close friends with Ouray and Chipeta. History Colorado bought his collection in 1948. It consists of 232 items. 150 are beaded Ute pieces. This is our largest Ute collection.