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Inside this Issue

September/October 2016

Glimpse into the lives and passions of the diverse group of women who comprise today’s DAR membership.

National Treasures
Take a step inside the DAR Museum for a closer look at its fascinating collection.

More Articles
Learn about the interesting historical articles from this issue.

To Come in Our Next Issue
Preview the exciting stories to be featured in the next issue of American Spirit.

Today's Daughters
Carrying on Tradition
Colorado Daughter cultivates an authentic cultural experience

By Lena Anthony  

Holly Kinney has been immersed in American Indian culture since she was a child. Born in Denver to advertising executive parents with a passion for western art and history, Mrs. Kinney spent many summer vacations on the pueblos of New Mexico, visiting with her parents’ American Indian artist friends.

When she was 9 years old, her family moved into a new house—a full-size replica of Bent’s Fort, an important 1840s adobe fur trading post that, at that time, had all but disappeared from Colorado history. In addition to living quarters, the structure was to house a living history museum to help share the story of Bent’s Fort and the Kiowa American Indians who once inhabited the area. But when construction costs got to be too high—workers made 80,000 adobe bricks by hand—the family decided to open a restaurant instead.

Since 1963, the Fort Restaurant has served traditional foods of the Early American West, such as buffalo, corn, beans and squash, sourcing recipe inspiration from historical documents and old cookbooks. When the Fort first opened, Mrs. Kinney’s family was determined to make it not just a culinary but a cultural experience as well. Servers dressed in traditional garments, the walls were adorned with American Indian art, and there was even an historical interpreter on site.

“We met Chief Big Cloud on a trip through the Black Hills in South Dakota,” recalled Mrs. Kinney, a member of Colorado DAR Chapter, Denver, Colo. “My father was so impressed with his storytelling skills that he offered to build him a cabin on our property, and he became our spokesperson.”

In addition to living alongside a Lakota chief, Mrs. Kinney also had a pet bear named Sissy, and even got the chance to wrestle a bear in her front yard when a traveling circus came through town. “As a child, I thought everyone grew up this way,” she said.

After college, Mrs. Kinney had a son, Oren, and followed in her parents’ footsteps, taking a job in advertising. By the time she was 30, she was running a successful advertising and public relations firm. But after a few years, home came calling. The Fort, under new ownership, was in disrepair and facing bankruptcy. 

Mrs. Kinney’s father fought to get the Fort back, and she stepped back in and started doing marketing for it. In 1997, it was the host for the official dinner for the G-8 Summit, which convened the heads of the leading industrialized nations.

After that experience, Mrs. Kinney knew she couldn’t risk losing the Fort, so she bought 49 percent of the restaurant from her father, and they became business partners.

Today, the restaurant is more popular than ever, and Mrs. Kinney was successful in getting the building on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. In 1999 she and her father created a nonprofit organization, the Tesoro Cultural Center, to teach the public about Bent’s Fort through school tours and events, fulfilling the original vision to be a living history cultural museum. 

Her father chose the name “Tesoro,” which means treasure in Spanish. Today, the Tesoro Cultural Center designs community-based events and educational outreach programs designed to celebrate Colorado’s heritage and shared experiences with Southwest, Spanish, Mexican, American Indian, African-American and Early European cultures. Mrs. Kinney won an NSDAR National Medal for Historic Preservation for her work with the Tesoro Cultural Center.

She’s also an active public servant. Recently, she served on a Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs committee to study American Indian representations in public schools. She has also served on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to help advocate for American Indian nations and promote travel to reservations.

“I like to think I’m helping to change hearts and minds,” Mrs. Kinney said. “I want people to know that American Indians are not a relic of the past. They are major contributors to our communities and our society. We should recognize them as the patriotic Americans that they are.”

Photo courtesy of Holly Kinney


Finding Her Way Home
How a California member discovered her American Indian heritage

Diane Tells His Name, a DAR member with both Patriot and American Indian heritage, always knew she was different. While her sister was the spitting image of her mother, Ms. Tells His Name, who used to be called Mrs. Buchanan, looked—and acted—nothing like her.

“When I would ask why I was so different, my mother would tell me we had American Indian in my dad’s family,” said the member of Rincon del Diablo DAR Chapter, Escondido, Calif. “And I was always satisfied with that answer.”

When she had her first child, a doctor questioned Ms. Tells His Name about spots on the child’s back during a checkup. They were Mongolian spots, which occur in about 80 to 85 percent of American Indian children. A few years later, at a dental appointment, her dentist asked if she was American Indian because she had shovel-shaped incisors, a common distinguishing trait.

Several more years passed, and Ms. Tells His Name saw a photo of her mother in 1951, two months before she supposedly gave birth to her but showing no signs of pregnancy. Ms. Tells His Name was 37 years old when she found out she was adopted and started the search for her birth mother, a process that got off to a rocky start.

“Because of American Indian law, it was very difficult,” she said. “I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me.” Finally, she connected with a knowledgeable volunteer who had experience helping people gain access to their adoption records. Five months later, Ms. Tells His Name was holding her birth certificate that listed her birth name, mother’s name and the names of two siblings. Her mother was a Lakota American Indian; her birth father, she would later learn, was descended from a Revolutionary War Patriot.

“In that instant, it all made sense,” said Ms. Tells His Name, who had always been drawn to American Indian art and culture and even studied it in college—for her final art project, she had made a Lakota cradle board.

Once they met, her birth mother, Isabelle Tells His Name, a traditional Lakota elder, gave her long-lost daughter a crash course in Lakota traditions and culture. A few months later, Ms. Tells His Name was at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota preparing for a traditional Lakota ceremony called a “give-away,” in which visitors are honored by having them give away gifts to tribal members. She donated more than $1,000 worth of California trinkets, T-shirts and bags of oranges as a show of generosity. It was then that she received her Lakota name, Falling Star Woman.

Back home in California, she continued to embrace her newfound heritage. She submitted her official tribal enrollment paperwork—a process that took 21 years to complete due to red tape and other bureaucratic roadblocks. In 1992, she and her husband, Jim Buchanan, adopted their fifth child, Bonnie, through Indian Child Family Services.

“Now I take my grandchildren to powwows and tell them stories,” she said.

She has also made them all authentic Lakota American Indian dolls. Some of her dolls, which feature intricate beadwork and horsetail hair, have been accessioned to museums across the country. Medallion Woman is in the collection of the Autry National Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, while Fur Trader’s Granddaughter was accepted for accession into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. She also markets the dolls through Lone Elk Creations.

“I’m not selling them to make money,” said Ms. Tells His Name. “I’m selling them to get these dolls into people’s hands as awareness of Lakota art and that we’re still here.”

Ms. Tells His Name is as proud of her Lakota heritage as she is of her Revolutionary War lineage, which she discovered when researching her birth father.

“I could never prove that he was Native, but every search I did, I kept finding Patriots. Now, every time I say the pledge or say the creed, I feel so proud to be a part of this very patriotic organization.”

Photo courtesy of Rhys O’Brien Photography


For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.

To nominate a Daughter for a future issue, e-mail a description to

National Treasures
Porcelain Perfection

This grouping of Chinese export porcelain is a small sample of products that potters from China sold to discerning consumers in Europe and the United States during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Since the 17th century, European potters had tried to replicate the formula for making hard-paste or true porcelain; instead, they were only able to develop soft-paste porcelain and earthenware look-alikes that fell short of authentic versions. Though it was expensive, Western consumers preferred Chinese porcelain, and owning it was a status symbol.

The porcelain’s fine white ground provided a surface for a limitless choice of embellishments. Tea sets, punch pots and dinner services represent only a fraction of what was available. Many products could be decorated to a specific order, such as the Masonic symbols painted onto the surface of the punch pot. Some buyers ordered porcelain with armorial designs like that on the small teapot. The cream pot in the center is designed to feature liberty, justice and an eagle over a floral motif. The tureen and matching dish stand display the motifs of a ship with a gilded band of seaweed and shells.

Photo courtesy of Mark Gulezian


For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.

More Articles

Paper Trail by Courtney Peter
Adelphi Paper Hangings creates reproduction wallpapers in historic patterns using techniques such as hand painting and block printing. The DAR Museum has been the proud recipient of its handiwork.

Visions of America: Union Stations by Jamie Roberts
From New York’s Grand Central Terminal to Oregon’s Union Station, many of the country’s key transportation hubs are bastions of soaring architectural beauty and historic functionality.

Eastward, Ho! by Bill Hudgins
One of the first ships to sail from the New World to China, the Empress of China’s voyage was underwritten by Robert Morris, financier of the Revolution. The voyage inspired others to invest in further trading with China.

Noah Webster and America’s First Dictionary by Nancy Mann Jackson
Webster, who came of age during the Revolution, became familiar with 26 languages to research the history of his mother tongue and published the first truly American dictionary in 1828.


Spirited Adventures: Hartford, Conn. by Megan Hamby
Connecticut’s capital city retains its early American charm, anchoring one of the nation’s oldest continuously published newspapers and one of its oldest public art museums.

Historic Homes: Moving (Historic House) by Lena Anthony
One of the oldest houses in Alaska used to stand on farmland 5,000 miles away near Plymouth, Mass. What goes into the gargantuan task of moving such historic structures?

Our Patriots: Gouverneur Morris by Lena Anthony
Nicknamed the “Penman of the Constitution,” New York City native Morris wrote large sections of the document and is credited as the author of its preamble.

Plus the President General’s Message and Whatnot

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To Come in November/December 2016:

Bacon’s Rebellion
King Arthur Flour
Hearth Cooking in Colonial Times