Rutland, along with his wife Ann and daughter Nancy Glaub, made his way to Tuscumbia from Birmingham, to the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art on Friday to loan them a sash that has been in his family for generations.
The sash, which is about 200 years old, was given to a Colbert County family by Chief George Colbert — of who the county is named for — before his tribe’s removal to Oklahoma. The sash has been passed down as a family heirloom since.
Colbert’s sash spent time at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art before its most recent exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Rutland, formerly of Cherokee, said the loan will be for 4 years, with the possibility of the artifact becoming a permanent part of the collection.
“I heard about the Native American exhibit being planned here, and I asked if they’d be interested in having it, to show it in Colbert County,” Rutland said.
Chief Colbert’s sash, which features intricate white bead work, red and gold sewing on a black sash, is an especially rare artifact. The sash is in good condition for its age, with the colors still being bold and most of the intricate bead work still intact.
Jim Berryman, assistant director of the Tennessee Valley Art Association, said Chickasaw artifacts are especially rare, much more so that other tribes in Alabama.
“There is very little authentic, period Chickasaw regalia in existence,” Berryman said, adding that the Chickasaw were much more reserved than the other Alabama tribes.
“The Chickasaw were unusual, for instance the other tribes had portraits made, the Chickasaw didn’t,” Berryman said, which helps explain why there are so few artifacts such as Chief Colbert’s sash.
There are some written accounts from traders of that time, but little else to describe the Chickasaw, Berryman said.
“This and other items, were gifts of friendship between George Colbert and other families in this area,” Berryman said. “People he did business with and socialized with right before the removal periods. We’re delighted to have it. It’s a very significant artifact and a legacy of this community.”
The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art is at 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia. Hours are 1-3 p.m. Sundays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Admission: $5, adults; $3, students; and free on Sundays. Group rates available. For details, visit tvaa.net or call 256-383-0533,
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.