To’tseha (History of Eagle Plume‘s)
This is a place unlike any other, just ask anyone who has been here. A place with walls that whisper, floors that creak under foot, a place with a rare history, a patina left by time and an endless parade of characters.
It began around 1917 when a young, single woman who was brave enough to leave her family and childhood behind in Kansas moved west and decided to start a business. Katherine Lindsay fashioned the original cabin after a Kansas farmhouse and named the business she started The What Not Inn. She sold antiques, art, and curios at the Inn, serving afternoon tea to her customers. Katherine’s fondness for American Indian art influenced the direction the shop would take from the very beginning. Her father, Col. H.C. Lindsay, a veteran of three wars, arrived in Topeka, Kansas during the fall of 1856. He collected Lakota beadwork and other Indian art amassing quite a collection before his death in 1927. Most of Lindsay’s collection was willed to the Kansas State Historical Society, but Katherine brought a portion of it with her to the Estes Valley and decorated her Inn with it. Katherine Lindsay later married O.S. Perkins and renamed her shop Perkins Trading Post. Over the years, Katherine completely shifted the focus of the store to the art and craft of the American Indian, becoming one of the better-known dealers in the Western States.
During the late 1920’s, Charles Eagle Plume became acquainted with the Perkins’ during his studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He helped Mrs. Perkins with everyday chores as Mr. Perkin’s health declined. Charles began spending his summers entertaining visitors with Indian lore and dancing, sometimes ambushing carloads of tourists dressed in full regalia with a shower of arrows, eventually convincing them to purchase a pair of moccasins or a Navajo rug. Katherine and Charles ran the store jointly until her death in 1966, adding to their collection all the while.
Charles Eagle Plume continued to hold court in the store, enchanting children and adults alike with his tall tales and corny jokes during the summer. In the long winter months, Eagle Plume toured the U.S. lecturing on Indian art and culture. He gained national recognition as a lecturer and performer, championing for civil rights long before it was popular. He pleaded for peace and understanding between all races, encouraging those who would listen, to acknowledge and appreciated the countless gifts the Indigenous people of America have given our society.
Established in 1917, this historic trading post specializes in the art and crafts of the American Indian. Contemporary works in jewelry, textiles, basketry, ceramics, sculpture, and beadwork, as well as historic pieces are available.
Also housed at the trading post is the Charles Eagle Plume Collection of Native American Indian art, comprising over one thousand historic and prehistoric pieces from Native North America, Alaska, and Canada. Off the beaten path, nestled at the base of Long’s Peak, you’ll discover one of the West's best-kept secrets rich in the traditions and arts of the Indigenous American.