A 200-year-old Cree costume was purchased for more than $550,000 at a New York auction by an art dealer who vows to return the “very important piece” of Canadian history to a museum in this country.

The winning bid went beyond Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate of $400,000.

The elaborately decorated outfit, fashioned from an elk or caribou skin, was acquired by a British army officer during the War of 1812 and held for nearly two centuries by his descendants in England.

The ensemble includes a painted skin jacket covered in colourful geometric designs and porcupine-quill pendants, hide leggings lined with beautiful beadwork and a set of leather mittens with stripes and fringed edges.