Bernice Davids Miller Pigeon


The second piece Mary wove was based on a more contemporary woman from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians. Bernice Davids Miller Pigeon was the woman the community selected for the woven portrait. She was born in 1918, died in 2005, and was very involved in collecting tribal history. Bernice was the tribal historian and was instrumental in starting the tribal historical library and museum.

For Bernice’s portrait, Mary drew and redrew the design, sampling as she went along. The final design is a portrait of Bernice bordered by a drawing of the tribe’s “Many Trails” symbol, which represents Endurance, Strength and Hope. Also in the border is a drawing of a turtle, which represents Bernice’s clan. In the portrait, she is wearing necklaces with these symbols.

This weaving is primarily woven in shaded satins, and is framed the same as the first portrait at  approximately 31” x 42.” When Mary showed this weaving at a central Wisconsin art festival in September, she was surprised and delighted to have two different people tell her they had known Bernice and what a wonderful person she was.

Bernice’s native name, Nutkasqua, meant “the gatherer.”

Some background information on Bernice:

Bernice was born on September 1, 1918 in the Town of Red Springs, the eldest of a family of ten to Elmer L. and Eureka (Jordan) Davids. Bernice grew up on the family farm near Big Lake. Her parents had 9 cows, 400 chickens, a huge family garden, and strawberry, boysenberry and raspberry patches. She married Arvid E. Miller on April 28, 1935. Together they raised twelve children. Arvid passed on in January of 1968. In March of 1979 she married Oscar Pigeon of Wittenberg; he preceded her in death in 2002. Bernice and her first husband, Arvid E. Miller, a Quinney descendant, conceived of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Library and Museum, which she founded after his death in 1968 and which was named the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Historical Library Museum. At the time of her death, Bernice had 56 grandchildren, 115 great-grandchildren, 39 great great-grandchildren, and many, many nieces and nephews

Her story is, of course, far richer than this very short biography. We will be honored to present more about her as we gain further insights.

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