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Mystery Photo 57 Revealed: Safe Storage

A parfleche at Knife River Indian Villages NHS. Copyright Kurt Repanshek

A parfleche suspended from the earthlodge at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Kurt Repanshek photo.

The colorful object shown in Mystery Photo 56 is a parfleche. Parfleches were made by Native American tribes out of rawhide and used as a suitcase of sorts or to store clothing or food.

Parfleches were brightly decorated, as is obvious from this photo. In Hidatsa and Mandan earthlodges parfleches were suspended from the ceilings to keep them out of reach and out of the way.

Rawhide discs were placed halfway up the rope to keep rodents "from climbing into the parfleche and provided protection from water damage in the event of a leak in the roof," according to the staff at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota.

While we had one correct answer (kinda), it was from Mike Jensen, who works for the state of North Dakota tourism department and who toured me through the state's National Park System units, including Knife River, and was there when I took the photo. Sooooo, we'll have to toss out his answer and congratulate those who guessed.


I probably had no chance on this one. I don't remember seeing the parfleche when I visited that Knife River earthlodge back in 2005.

Unrelated question: was there ever a drawing from August's puzzle winners for the Jewel of the Mall book? I don't remember seeing a winner announced, and I just skimmed the September posts and didn't see an item for it. Did you decide you didn't want to part with the book?

Celbert, I must admit to being a bit remiss about the contest prizes, spurred in part by the fact that no one claimed the last two months prizes (June or July). But since you asked, I'd be happy to send you the Jewel of the Mall book if you'd forward me your particulars (name and address) to [email protected]

Good grief! I can't even pronounce parfleche, let alone guess what it was!

To make you feel better, Dottie, I don't recall hearing of them before seeing this one...

Thanks, Kurt, but you know, sometimes, just sometimes, me thinks they makes lottsa stuff up. Lived on the Navajo Reservation for three years and never heard of a parfleche. Maybe they only made them in North Dakota.

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