These shakers are marked Pine Ridge Sioux E. Woody. They are in excellent condition and are almost 3" in diameter. Ella Woody was one of the Irving sisters who established Pine Ridge Pottery. Ella was Woody in late 1930s. Was later a South Dakota Indian Living Treasure. See below.
I will be listing another piece by Ella, signed Irving and other Sioux pottery and will gladly combine shipping. Ridge Pottery
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
Pine Ridge Pottery
The following article appeared the WPAPress, Vol. 8, April 2001
By Kari Kenefick
Peter Flaherty spoke at the February 13, 2001 WPA meeting onPine Ridge Pottery. Peter said that he became interested in Pine Ridge Potterythrough direct and indirect means. Peter met a Fulper dealer that had a piecewith the milky glaze, which he found attractive and unusual. Peter gave a veryinteresting presentation. The following was gleaned from his notes as well asthe sources noted at the end of this article.
The Pine Ridge Indian reservation, established in 1890, islocated in southwestern South Dakota. In the 1930s the Work Progress Association(WPA) setup a boarding school on the reservations, the goal being to removechildren from their homes and place them in school where they spoke onlyEnglish.
There is no tradition of pottery amongst the Lakota SiouxIndians of the Great Plains - the Sioux were a nomadic group that followed thebison herds and as such were light travelers. The Sioux are reported to morefrequently have used baskets than pottery, baskets being far lighter totransport. The pottery that they did travel with was not decorative, but rathervery functional. Thus Pine Ridge Pottery might be considered a white man'smedium decorated by Native Americans.
The WPA project brought white instructors to the boardingschool, to provide pottery for home use and to help the Indians sustainthemselves as craftspeople. Bruce Doyle was hired in 1937 to run the ceramicsprogram in the high school. Doyle, a North Dakota native, had studied in NorthDakota, probably at UND, where he connected with Margaret Cable. In additionPeter Flaherty told us that Doyle had studied at UCLA, the University ofWashington, the University of Oregon and the UW-Milwaukee. In his 1988 book"Art Pottery of the Midwest", Marion Nelson reported that Doyle's sonsaid his father studied pottery in Madison, Wisconsin. Doyle is credited withmaking molds at the Pine Ridge Reservation and with formulating glazes suitableto local clays.
Perhaps coincidental to Doyle's arrival, in 1937 Margaret Cable,director of ceramics at the University of North Dakota, was hired for six monthsby the U.S. Field Services as a Traveling Education Specialist in Ceramics. Muchof her time seems to have been spent at the Pine Ridge Reservation teaching acourse designed for ceramics instructors - the course was usable for credit atUND and USD. In addition to teachers, community members were also welcome toattend this class.
The years 1937-1940 are considered to have been the mostproductive at the Pine Ridge high school pottery. Doyle built two large kilnsand taught both molding and throwing. Pottery supported the other craft programsduring this period, earning $40,000 for the school. Doyle left in 1940 to take apromotion to principal in Allen, S.D., but his trainees maintained the potteryprogram for quite some time after his departure. However, sometime during the1940s the production of Pine Ridge pottery at the high school ended.
Among those trained by Doyle were three sisters of Sioux originwho are credited with continuing the Pine Ridge pottery after the high schoolprogram ended. Ella Irving (known as Ella Woody during the late '30s and EllaCox during the 1940s) secured a loan to purchase a log building in downtown PineRidge to continue pottery production. Clay was dug near this area and glazeswere produced locally, as at the school. Ella and company continued using theincised mark "Pine Ridge Sioux" sometimes including the word"Indian", under a pine tree on a ridge. Ella and her sister Olive(also known as "Ollie") Cottier threw pots on the wheel, while thethird sister, Bernice Talbot did the work of casting, glazing and decorating thepottery.
Pine Ridge produced a good variety of ware, much havinggeometric cream-colored slip decoration executed in sgraffito (glaze appliedthen scratched away in decorative patterns, revealing the clay underneath). Theclay was often red and covered with a clear glaze. Plain glazes of severalcolors were featured as well. Peter Flaherty commented that the pieces with amilky top glaze are particularly beautiful.
There appears to be some debate about the precise timing ofevents surrounding pottery production at the Pine Ridge high school. Peter'snotes tell that the Irving sisters took over at the high school, but quit in1943 when Bill Artis was hired as the new director of Pine Ridge pottery. Inaddition, Peter's information notes that it was 1955 when Ella Irving secured aloan and bought the pottery from the Pine Ridge boarding school. The demise ofElla's efforts appears to have come in the 1980's when her shop was vandalizedand equipment was stolen. Production ceased at this time, despite continuingdemand for the pottery.
In Sept. of 1999, at the age of 93, Ella Irving was awarded the10th annual South Dakota Living Indian Treasure Award in recognition of hercontributions to Native American art forms. Her pottery can be found around theworld, including in the Smithsonian Institute.
Clay for Pine Ridge pottery included red clay from the PineRidge reservation and a white clay from the Black Hills. Some additional markson the pottery included Ella Irving's pieces marked "Woody" (hermarried name) and "E. Cox" (from her second marriage). Pieces from1930something until 1942 were marked "Oglala Lakota Sioux", signed byBruce Doyle. "Ramona Wounded Knee" was the signature used by OliveCottier. "OCHS" marking signifies Oglala Community High School, thename of the boarding school. And from 1930something until about 1941 pieces weresigned by "Nora Fire Thunder".
Nelson, Marion. (1988) Art Pottery of the Midwest.