As the catalogue to this new exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts points out, the artistry of the peoples of the Great Plains had to be functional, given their semi-nomadic nature.
So they created beauty for everyday use, on their clothing, their homes, and their implements, according to this story by Eric Newhouse.
The exhibit “breaks new ground,” associate curator Joe Horse Capture writes in the catalogue. “This is probably the first time a major art museum has held an exhibition devoted to a specific Native American tribe and curated by members of that same tribe. Tribal members also wrote the catalog.”
The catalog is dedicated to Horse Capture’s dad, George Horse Capture, who moved back to Great Falls from Washington, D.C., after retiring as senior curator of the National Museum of the American Indian. The elder Horse Capture also
contributed a historical and cultural narrative to the catalog, as did tribal artist and teacher Sean Chandler.
“Our tribe has always been a small one, and we lived in Canada for hundreds of years, so compared to other, larger tribes we are little known,” he wrote. “But many of us have earned college degrees and with the help of our elders over the years have located and gathered information from the four corners of the earth to provide this glimpse of our history and aspects of our culture.”
The exhibition includes a century-old hide war shield made that had belonged to Bull Lodge, a warrior and holy man, and am A’aninin shirt made from an animal hide and decorated with strips of beadwork down the chest and back and along the arms, Newhouse writes.
Many of the items were donated by Richard Pohrt Sr.
“Later in life, Pohrt gave objects that were sacred to the A’aninin back to the tribe,” Horse Capture says. He had considered himself as a caretaker of these powerful objects and felt compelled to return them. Such a close and personal relationship with a tribe is rare among collectors.”