Furniture Influenced by Ethnicity and Historical Period in Oklahoma’s Native American Territory

By Mihyun Kang, Kyuho Ahn and Kate Kennedy.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: August 4, 2016 $US5.00

This study investigated the furniture history of Oklahoma’s early settlers, as experienced and described by actual residents of the nineteenth century Indian Territory. The investigation sought to determine if the uses of furniture by territorial residents differed based on 1) ethnicity (Acculturated Native Americans, Traditional Native Americans, European Americans, African Americans) and 2) historical period (1850–1885, 1885–1900, 1900–1910). During the 1930s, as part of a project funded by the federal Works Progress Administration, 6,300 early residents of the Indian Territory were interviewed concerning their memories of territorial life. These interviews were subsequently published as the Oklahoma-Indian Papers. Interview statements pertaining to furniture items were extracted, along with demographic information about the interviewees. Of the 6,300 interviewed individuals, 557 included comments regarding furniture. Furniture items mentioned in the interviews included beds, cabinets, chairs, and other small items. The memories suggested furniture in Oklahoma’s Native American Territory was more diverse in terms of ethnicity, with the use of local materials for homemade furniture observed across all people groups. However, furniture was less diverse in terms of historical periods, implying that furniture may have been passed on to the next generation once it was made or brought to the Territory.

Keywords: Native American, Furniture, Oklahoma Territory

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: August 4, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 679.699KB)).

Dr. Mihyun Kang

Professor, Department of Design, Housing, and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA

Kyuho Ahn

Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA

Kate Kennedy

Interior Designer, Ascension Group Environments for Health, Dallas, Texas, USA