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A private Museum exhibiting the Regalia of 12 Historically Important Plains Indian Leaders.

Re-created from historic photographs, paintings, and oral history.

Cathy Smith was commissioned in January of 1996 to re-create the material culture of twelve historically important Plains Indian leaders for a private museum in Santa Fe, NM. The collection consists of the regalia, clothing, and accouterments of each personage as determined from historical photographs, paintings, and informants, both living and historically researched.

Over 60 individual pieces in total, the collection required four years to execute. The research and accumulation of understanding and artistic skill took twenty-five years.

Each item was created in the same way as it was originally made, using the same materials and techniques of production: Bighorn Sheep, antelope, buffalo, and deer hides tanned with brains, original stock seed and pony beads, naturally dyed porcupine quills, sinew or linen thread, original trade items such as wool stroud, brass hawk bells, buttons, silk ribbon, etc. The only concession to authenticity was the use of hand-painted turkey feathers in place of eagle, hawk, and owl.

The result is one of the finest collections of material culture of the Plains Indian gathered in one location. Its real significance lies in the fact that these are reproductions of documented pieces, the majority of which are not in existence ( or at least accessible to viewing), except in rare historical photographs or paintings. Since the recent repatriation laws discourage the purchase and private ownership of historical Native American art, reproducing these pieces allows them to be seen and appreciated in a politically and spiritually correct genre.

Further, the educational value of reproduction should not be underestimated: Many of the techniques used in the construction of this collection are all but lost or practiced by very few. This is a way of documenting the knowledge, keeping an art form alive, and passing it on to future generations. And possibly more importantly, the meaning and spiritual significance of the various rare materials, patterns of design, and ceremony that accompanies it all is being documented and preserved. The work in this collection has not been done in the last century, at least to this extent.

It is a chance to pass along the artistic skills and methods of a spiritually imbued culture, and at the same time, bring to life the regalia of historically important leaders, in one location.

The work was done by Cathy Smith [ Wiyak'pa Win] and the artisans under her tutelage. Cathy grew up in South Dakota among the Lakota of Cheyenne River Reservation. She has spent her entire adult life researching, restoring, and recreating the material culture of the Plains Indian. She learned porcupine quillwork in the holy way, through ceremony and apprenticeship with Mrs. Bertha Hump, one of the last of the Double Woman Dreamers among the Mniconjou, and thus earned the privilege to do this skilled work. She is also a SunDancer and a practitioner of the spiritual ways of her Hunka-Ate, Kenneth YoungBear, which gave her the depth of understanding to attempt a work of this significance. Her connection to and association with the elders of the Plains peoples gave her ability to research obscure and esoteric information an added dimension.

The collection consists of the shirts, leggings, moccasins, bonnets, and accouterments of the following twelve historical personages:

As painted by Karl Bodmer in 1832:
Mato Tope, Mandan
Periska Rhupa, Hidatsa

From Smithsonian photographs:
Red Cloud, Oglala
Kicking Bear, Mniconjou
Medicine Crow, Crow
Petalasharo, Grand Pawnee
Mountain Chief, Blackfoot
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
Little Chief, Suhtai Cheyenne
Little Wolf, N. Cheyenne
Quanah Parker, Comanche

Crazy Horse, Mniconjou/Oglala from ledger drawing & personal informants

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