The War Shirt
A First Nations War Shirt, called a Soo-Car-Sim, was recently returned to the Esplanade Museum in Medicine Hat from the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) which specializes in museum conservation and restoration. The Shirt was taken in combat from a Nẽhiyawak (Cree) warrior by a Kainai (Blood) warrior. The Kainai warrior later wore it during the Battle of the Belly River, also known as the Battle of Lethbridge, between the same two Nations in 1870.
The artifact entered the Esplanade Museum’s collection as part of the Burkitt Collection which was purchased by the Historical Society of Medicine Hat and District in the early 1950’s. The collection had been assembled, by purchase and commission, by Thyrza Burkitt a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. She had a keen interest in First Nations peoples and documented much of the collection, including who made the items or who she purchased them from.
The War Shirt, including an extensive description of the means and methods used to conserve it, are on exhibit in the Permanent Gallery of the Esplanade Museum until January, 2014.