Flicker Feather "Headdress"

Front view of "headdress" (UCM 6178). For more information, see "A Radiocarbon Age for the Flicker Feather Headdress from Mantle's Cave (5MF1), Dinosaur National Monument, Utah-Colorado," by James A. Truesdale in the journal , 59(3): 26-33.

One of the Museum's most beautiful objects is a flicker feather headdress, which was recovered during 1939-1940 excavations of Mantle's Cave in the center of Dinosaur National Monument in the far northwest corner of Colorado. This area was inhabited prehistorically by a hunter/gatherer/horticulturalist group that archaeologists call the Fremont, and in historic times by the Ute, a Numic-speaking tribe.

The headdress is intricately constructed and was found in a buckskin pouch. It is made of flicker feathers, ermine, and buckskin. More than 370 feathers are in the headdress. Six feathers at the center of the crest are from the yellow-shafted flicker and the rest of the feathers are central tail feathers of the red-shafted flicker. Interestingly, the red flicker is native west of the Rockies, while the yellow flicker lives east of the Rockies. The feathers are carefully trimmed and the quills sewn together with sinew. They are placed between strips of ermine and laced into place. Rawhide thongs at either end of the ermine may have been used to hold the headdress in place when it was worn. Long wing feathers adorn the ends.
The original excavators of Mantle's Cave dubbed this object a headdress, although its use remains uncertain. It dates to A.D. 996-1190, which is the transitional time period between the Fremont people and Numic-speaking people in this area, so it could have belonged to either cultural group. The headdress is well preserved and hopefully future researchers will be able to discover more about its origin and use.