The Beauty of the Horse Nation Lives On…

December 1st, 2012  |  Published in Art, Culture, Education, History

O’siyo. We are celebrating Native horsemanship and their horses for  American Indian Heritage month. The exhibit “A Song for the Horse Nation” currently at the The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in D.C. will be going on the road after January 7, 2013. It is a wonderful exhibit that tells the story of Natives and their strong relationship with horses over the years. Horses have become an integral part of Native life. Among the items presented in the exhibit are special ceremonial regalia such as chest ornaments, saddle blankets, and fancy masks which were worn by the horses for special occasions. In addition there are  paintings, toys for children, and articles of clothing that feature beautiful embroidery and beadwork depicting  horses.

The Beauty of the Horse Nation Lives On

Walla Walla beaded bag, ca. 1915 Photo credit NMAI

Excerpt: A Song for the Horse Nation, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

“The story of the relationship of Native peoples and horses is one of the great sagas of human contact with the animal world. Native peoples have traditionally regarded the animals in our lives as fellow creatures with which a common destiny is shared. 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. Horses transformed Native life and became a central part of many tribal cultures.

Crow Nation Fair Parade, 2009-Photo credit; Emil Her Many Horses, NMAI.

By the 1800s, American Indian horsemanship was legendary, and the survival of many Native peoples, especially on the Great Plains, depended on horses. Native peoples paid homage to horses by incorporating them into their cultural and spiritual lives, and by creating art that honored the bravery and grace of the horse.

The glory days of the horse culture were brilliant but brief, lasting just over a century. The bond between American Indians and the Horse Nation, however, has remained strong through the generations…

For some Native peoples, the horse still is an essential part of daily life. For others, the horse will always remain an element of our identity and our history. The Horse Nation continues to inspire, and Native artists continue to celebrate the horse in our songs, our stories, and our works of art.

Wild Horses-Youtube Video By OMisTerMan

Through an array of 122 historic objects, artwork, photographs, songs, and personal accounts, A Song for the Horse Nation presents the epic story of the horse’s influence on American Indian tribes…”

Visit the site and explore this  educational and wonderful exhibit!

As an extra treat we found this wonderful you tube video posted by OMisterMan:If you love to watch horses, you’ll enjoy this video with the following message:

“Mostly wild horses and old native Indian photos in the United States. The REAL wild west. The audio track has not been modified or enhanced. Just great lively music and photos worth a thousand memories. Best viewed at my channel because of the background. Enjoy!”   Uploaded by OMisTerMan on Jun 10, 2010.

A Sky Full of Horses

I looked over there and I saw twelve black horses toward the west, where the sun goes down…

Then they showed me twelve white horses [in the north]…

Then I turned around toward the east… I saw twelve head of horses, all sorrels.

 Then I turned to… the south, and saw twelve head of buckskin horses…

The bay horse said to me, ‘Behold them, your horses come dancing.’ I looked around and saw millions of horses circling around me—a sky full of horses…

~Black Elk (Oglala Lakota), 1932~

 

Teachers will find free and Complete Lesson Plans with Answer Keys on the following U.S. tribes: Apache, Blackfeet, Cherokee, Choctaw, Crow, Iroquois, Kwakiutl, Mohawk (read about the fascinating “Sky Walkers”)  Navajo, Shawnee, Sioux, and Zuni.

We also offer our unique and informative Tribalpedia which offers concise historical and current material about many Native tribes.  Included are Discussion Questions for students.

Visit some our reader’s favorite posts!  Many thanks.  

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