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Pony painting by
Kennard Real Bird-Crow
WASHINGTON DC - opens a major exhibition this fall that explores one of the greatest sagas of human contact with the animal world - American Indians and horses. The exhibition opens October 29.
Through a spectacular array of 122 historic objects, artwork, photographs and personal accounts, "A Song for the Horse Nation" tells the story of how the return of horses to the Americas by Christopher Columbus changed everything for American Indians - from the way they travelled, hunted and waged war to how they celebrated generosity, exhibited bravery and conducted ceremonies.
"When American Indians encountered horses - which some tribes call the Horse Nation - they found an ally, inspiring and useful in times of peace, and intrepid in times of war," said Kevin Gover, Pawnee, director of the museum. "The exhibition shows how these majestic creatures came to represent courage and freedom to many tribes across North America."
Oglala Lakota beaded horse mask, ca. 1904
Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
The critically acclaimed exhibition, first shown at the museum's George Gustav Heye Center in New York (November 14, 2009 - July 10, 2011), doubles its exhibition space at the flagship museum on the National Mall to 9,500 square feet and includes 15 major additional objects. Among them is a 19th century, 16 foot tall, 38 foot circumference Lakota tipi, in which 110 hand painted horses, some with riders, all at a full gallop, cover the entire surface in colors as vivid as the day they were created. These battle and horse-raiding scenes proclaim the heroic deeds of the warrior who once lived in the tipi.
Life"size model horses, one pulling a 19th"century Cheyenne travois and another tacked in a dazzling display of fully beaded traditional Apsaalooke (Crow) regalia, will also be on display. Other highlights include rifles belonging to celebrated mounted warriors Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache), Chief Joseph (Nez Perce) and Chief Rain-in-the-Face (Hunkpapa Lakota) and the famous ceremonial dance stick (ca. 1890) of No Two Horns (Hunkpapa Lakota), which he created to honor his beloved horse that died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Visitors will discover daring feats of bravery such as "counting coup," in which a warrior would gallop astride an enemy and touch him with his hand. They will learn that raiding an enemy's horses is a proud tradition that survived even into 20th century warfare - during World War II, Joseph Medicine Crow, Apsaalooke (Crow), now in his 90s, liberated horses from the Nazi SS in the finest tradition of a Plains Indian warrior. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama August 12, 2009.
Photo Credit: Katherine Fogden Oglala Lakota beaded horse mask. Fine Art Photography by Brady Willette.
posted August 23, 2011 8:57 pm edt
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