Adversity and Renewal wheel imageAdversity and Renewal

Adversity and Renewal

The Adversity and Renewal gallery takes the visitor on a journey that looks respectfully at the past, understands the present, and has an eye to the future. Throughout the gallery, the objects reflect the changes and innovations that have taken place in the material and spiritual cultures of Plains people since being placed on reservations in the late 1800s.

The centerpiece of the gallery is a reproduction of the 1911 log house that belonged to Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota, in the Wounded Knee District of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Arthur Amiotte, Lakota artist and scholar, guided the recreation of his great-grandfather’s home. His voice and that of Gloria Goggles, Lakota, interpret the house’s nurturing environment, full of innovation and tradition, that teaches important lessons to future generations.

The Plains Indian Museum's Adversity and Renewal Gallery

The Plains Indian Museum’s Adversity and Renewal Gallery

Choose a subject within Adversity and Renewal to explore in depth

⊕ Spirituality

⊕ Identity

⊕ Community

⊕ Land

Identity

Something basic to every human being is that you have to know who you are and understand that and be proud of that and, you know, feel a sense of worth. —Calvin Grinnell, Numakiki/Nuxbaaga (Mandan/Hidatsa), 1999

Fritz Scholder (1937–2005). "Half Breed," 1974. Oil on canvas, 40.125 x 30 inches. Gift of Jack and Carol O'Grady. 25.91.1

Fritz Scholder (1937–2005). “Half Breed,” 1974. Oil on canvas, 40.125 x 30 inches. Gift of Jack and Carol O’Grady. 25.91.1

Image:

Fritz Scholder (1937–2005). Half Breed, 1974. Oil on canvas, 40.125 x 30 inches. Gift of Jack and Carol O’Grady. 25.91.1

Tribal Identity

Tribal Identity

We preserve our culture, I believe, through round dances. They call them powwows now—they used to be called celebrations, they were celebrations of life. …The first powwow was, all the people got together and they started calling people, saying, “Oh, okay, let’s get together, see who is all alive still.” And pretty soon it became an annual thing. Each year they would get together so that they could see who had passed on, and how they were doing, and that was the first powwows. So they were celebrations of life; that’s how they were originally started. —Lyle Gwin, Nuxbaaga (Hidatsa), 1999

Ken Blackbird (b. 1956). Headdresses, Fort Belknap Powwow, Montana, 1991. MS 426 Ken Blackbird Collection. P.426.02556

Ken Blackbird (b. 1956). Headdresses, Fort Belknap Powwow, Montana, 1991. MS 426 Ken Blackbird Collection. P.426.02556

I moved to Wyoming during my fourth grade year and lived on the Wind River Indian Reservation. I was clueless about my culture. I dwelt on negative things, such as the “drunken Indian” that many of us see passed out in the city park or staggering along the sidewalk. I began to feel ashamed of who I am because I knew that part of me is common to that Indian we all see. I didn’t think it was right to take part in such things as sweat lodges and other ceremonies, for I was brought up in a strict Catholic family. For many years I held all these thoughts and feelings within me. Being Native American doesn’t mean I’m destined to be an alcoholic, or anything that is commonly associated with Native Americans that some people might look down upon. It would seem easy to come to a conclusion such as this but was truthfully hard for me to reach. I now have pride in who I am. I am slowly learning about my culture. I appreciate that I have a culture to learn about and be a part of. —Matthew Watt, Hinono’ei (Arapaho), 1999

Image:

Ken Blackbird (b. 1956). Headdresses, Fort Belknap Powwow, Montana, 1991. MS 426 Ken Blackbird Collection. P.426.02556

Language

Language

Recent years have seen a growing interest in preserving Native languages. Many are in danger of being lost, with only a handful of fluent speakers, and fewer young people learning them. In an effort to help teach young children, the Hinono’ei (Arapaho) Nation collaborated with the Walt Disney Company to produce Bambi, the classic animated movie, in the Arapaho language.

[Missing clip of Bambi in Arapaho: Bambi K5_2a QT Movie. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 1994. Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Greymorning, Hinono’ei (Northern Arapaho)]

I went to a school where they were all Caucasian, and I was the only Indian there. And I know how it felt, you know. And today I think it’s kind of turning around, the non-Indian is trying to learn our Native American traditional way and culture. And they want to understand. Which is good. And my grandchildren here, I talk to them in our own Native language. I didn’t do that to my kids because I wanted them to learn the English language, Now, today, I think that was a mistake that we made. —Hazel Blake, Nuxbaaga (Hidatsa), 1999

Schoolchildren in Lame Deear, ca 1922–1935. MS 165 Thomas Marquis Native American Nitrate Negative Collection. PN.165.2.126

Schoolchildren in Lame Deear, ca 1922–1935. MS 165 Thomas Marquis Native American Nitrate Negative Collection. PN.165.2.126

Image:

Schoolchildren in Lame Deear, ca 1922–1935. MS 165 Thomas Marquis Native American Nitrate Negative Collection. PN.165.2.126

Sara Wiles, 1997.

Boarding Schools

Boarding Schools

And I remember him telling me that the first word in English that he knew was the word “broom.” And I said why was that the first word you knew? He said, “Well if you got caught talking ‘Indian’—in their case Arapaho—they made you kneel on that broom for three or four hours until you wouldn’t talk your language no more.” —Patrick Goggles, Hinono’ei (Arapaho), 1998

Teachers with Nez Perce students in western clothing, Fort Lapwai, Idaho, ca. 1905–1915. MS 320 Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection. P.320.281

Teachers with Nez Perce students in western clothing, Fort Lapwai, Idaho, ca. 1905–1915. MS 320 Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection. P.320.281

My grandma, her and her sisters, they would go down in the basement at night after all the matrons went to sleep. And then they swore, they made a pact with themselves that they would not let the language die, they would not forget it. And they would sit there and they’d talk Hidatsa to each other, back and forth. And if they knew other languages they’d practice those too. When she come back from boarding school, with all her grandchildren and her children she would not speak English. If you spoke English to her…she wouldn’t talk to you no more, because of all the beatings she got for speaking [Hidatsa]. She could read it, write it; she knew it, but she spoke Hidatsa and we had to speak Hidatsa to her whenever we addressed her. —Lyle Gwin, Nuxbaaga (Hidatsa), 1999

Schoolchildren outside their classroom, Lame Deer, Montana, 1926. MS 165 Thomas Marquis Native American Nitrate Negative Collection. PN.165.2.130

Schoolchildren outside their classroom, Lame Deer, Montana, 1926. MS 165 Thomas Marquis Native American Nitrate Negative Collection. PN.165.2.130

Images:

Teachers with Nez Perce students in western clothing, Fort Lapwai, Idaho, ca. 1905–1915. MS 320 Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection. P.320.281

Schoolchildren outside their classroom, Lame Deer, Montana, 1926. MS 165 Thomas Marquis Native American Nitrate Negative Collection. PN.165.2.130

Spirituality

We respect everything that the Creator has given to us. We respect it because everything out there is living—the sun, the moon, the stars, the clouds, the sky, the mountains, the trees, the rocks, the grass, the water—all those things are living, and they’re all related. We’re part of that relationship. The Creator gave us these things for our survival. So, therefore, we respect these things, what he’s given to us. We honor these things. So that’s what we call our way of life, what they call a religion. —Curly Bear Wagner, Amoskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet), 1999

Fritz Scholder (1937 – 2005). Aspen Summer, 1977. Oil on canvas, 40.25 x 30.125 inches). Gift of Jack and Carol O'Grady. 25.91.2

Fritz Scholder (1937 – 2005). Aspen Summer, 1977. Oil on canvas, 40.25 x 30.125 inches). Gift of Jack and Carol O’Grady. 25.91.2

Image:

Fritz Scholder (1937 – 2005). Aspen Summer, 1977. Oil on canvas, 40.25 x 30.125 inches). Gift of Jack and Carol O’Grady. 25.91.2

Passing on Traditions

Passing on Traditions

If a young child didn’t listen they could actually bring danger to the whole camp, and so at a very young age, young children were taught to listen. And a part of their education was through storytelling, and through storytelling they learned about respect toward their environment, respect toward the earth, the trees, the land, the water. Not only that, they learned about respecting wildlife, the animals. They shared the world with the animals, and so it was important to know, to understand how they fit into the whole picture. —Merle Haas, Hinono’ei (Arapaho), educator and storyteller

Blackbear Bosin (1921–1980). Mandan Mother and Child, ca. 1963. Gouache on illustration board, 28.375 x 39.875 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wallick in memory of Wallace C. Ford. 13.74

Blackbear Bosin (1921–1980). Mandan Mother and Child, ca. 1963. Gouache on illustration board, 28.375 x 39.875 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wallick in memory of Wallace C. Ford. 13.74

Contrary to popular belief, education, the transmission and acquisition of knowledge and skills, did not come to the North American continent on the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Education is as native to this continent as its Native people. —Henrietta Whitman, Tsistsistas (Cheyenne), 2000

Doug Hyde (b. 1946). Coyote Legend, 1976. Alabaster, 26.5 x 20 x 18 inches. William E. Weiss Contemporary Art Fund. 9.76

Doug Hyde (b. 1946). Coyote Legend, 1976. Alabaster, 26.5 x 20 x 18 inches. William E. Weiss Contemporary Art Fund. 9.76

I think the first step is to start teaching the way my grandma taught us. The faith and then the language, those things have to be re-instituted. It made a great comeback here in the mid-80s and early 90s, our ceremonies, and then now the young people are starting to practice them again. Which is a good thing, when they bring back the sacredness of our beliefs, then they’ll start to move forward. —Lyle Gwin, Nuxbaaga (Hidatsa), 1999

1996 Plains Indian Museum Powwow.

1996 Plains Indian Museum Powwow.

Images:

Blackbear Bosin (1921–1980). Mandan Mother and Child, ca. 1963. Gouache on illustration board, 28.375 x 39.875 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wallick in memory of Wallace C. Ford. 13.74

Doug Hyde (b. 1946). Coyote Legend, 1976. Alabaster, 26.5 x 20 x 18 inches. William E. Weiss Contemporary Art Fund. 9.76

1996 Plains Indian Museum Powwow.

 

Search for Hope

Search for Hope

Turned away from their homelands, faced with the destruction of their way of life, and forbidden to observe their sacred and ceremonial traditions, many Native people looked to new sources of faith and hope.

Darren Vigil Gray (b. 1959). Wovoka, 1983. Silk screen on paper, 22.5 x 18 inches. Gift of Mrs. Damaris D.W. Ethridge. 1.84.1

Darren Vigil Gray (b. 1959). Wovoka, 1983. Silk screen on paper, 22.5 x 18 inches. Gift of Mrs. Damaris D.W. Ethridge. 1.84.1

People like my parents thought, “Now here are some people that are going to help us learn their ways. We are stepping into a world that is not our own, but we have to adhere to it. These people are showing us the way, but the main thing ins that they want to save our souls, through that Pierced One, the son of the Creator. —Alma Snell, Absaroke (Crow), 2000

Miss Crawford, missionary to Kiowas, with Curley (Custer Scout); Anna and Genevieve Petzoldt in car, Montana, ca. 1903–1925. MS 95 William A. Petzoldt Lantern Slide Collecction. LS.95.143

Miss Crawford, missionary to Kiowas, with Curley (Custer Scout); Anna and Genevieve Petzoldt in car, Montana, ca. 1903–1925. MS 95 William A. Petzoldt Lantern Slide Collecction. LS.95.143

Increasing religious freedom has encouraged a resurgence of spiritual and ritual traditions. The Native American Church, which first emerged in the late 1870s, combines elements of Christianity with traditional practices.

Native American Church set, 1998. Made by Emil Her Many Horses, Oglala Sioux. Feathers, glass beads, deer hide, metal, string. Gift of the Pilot Foundation. NA.502.215.1, .3, .4, and .5

Native American Church set, 1998. Made by Emil Her Many Horses, Oglala Sioux. Feathers, glass beads, deer hide, metal, string. Gift of the Pilot Foundation. NA.502.215.1, .3, .4, and .5

Images:

Darren Vigil Gray (b. 1959). Wovoka, 1983. Silk screen on paper, 22.5 x 18 inches. Gift of Mrs. Damaris D.W. Ethridge. 1.84.1

Miss Crawford, missionary to Kiowas, with Curley (Custer Scout); Anna and Genevieve Petzoldt in car, Montana, ca. 1903–1925. MS 95 William A. Petzoldt Lantern Slide Collecction. LS.95.143

Native American Church set, 1998. Made by Emil Her Many Horses, Oglala Sioux. Feathers, glass beads, deer hide, metal, string. Gift of the Pilot Foundation. NA.502.215.1, .3, .4, and .5

Reclaiming Sacred Objects

Reclaiming Sacred Objects

In the reservation ear, many sacred artifacts, and even human remains, found their way out of Native communities and into private and museum collections, where their spiritual significance was not properly respected. Reclaiming them has been an uphill battle.

Those things are sacred to our people…. This bundle may be handed down through generation to generation, songs may go with it, a certain way of smudging may go with it; there’s certain functions that relate to that bundle. These are our national treasures today that protected our people and helped us survive the great difficulties that we had to go through—starvation, winter, being attacked by enemies, coming of the white man. These things were our helpers, and so…you talk to any traditional Indian, he won’t talk to much about those things. We make it clear that they are sacred and certain things we can talk about or we can’t talk about, those bundles. —Curly Bear Wagner, Amoskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet), 1999

[Missing image: New York Times, January 15, 1938; Copyright 2000 by The New York Times Co.; reprinted by permission.]

In 1990, President George Bush signed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) into law, protecting human remains and funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. It was an important, if partial, victory for the Indian community. “Whoever knowingly sells, purchases, uses for profit, or transports for sale or profit, the human remains of a Native American without the rights of possession to those remains…shall be fined…or imprisoned not more than 12 months, or both, and in the case of a second or subsequent violation, be fined in accordance with this title, or imprisoned more than 5 years, or both. —[H.R. 5237] Sec. 4. Illegal Trafficking

Recovery

Recovery

We still face that issue of drug and alcohol, and violence…. I think we have the tools here to better deal with it. I think if you go back to some of the cultural aspects of who we are as Indians, I think personally drugs and alcohol has a lot to do with the breakdown of the family. I really work really close, and I have a really good relationship with my son; I think he’s at a real crucial point now, he’s a seventh grader. I ask him what’s going on about every day. I realize the pressures that are on him now; it’s just being able to spend time with him, and talk to him, and have that relationship. —Ivan Posey, So-soreh (Eastern Shoshone), 1998

I’ll do anything that I need to in order to keep my sobriety and I’m open to a lot of different ways. My sobriety means a lot to me and I’d like to see more of the people that I grew up with in a program like this. There were so many of us when I was growing up and we’d all go to dances around here and it was great. And we all took a little pact and said we’re not going to end up like our parents and there’s probably just one or two of us that didn’t have a problem with alcoholism.

Tipis with what appears to be a sweat lodge beside them, ca. 1903–1925. MS 95 William A. Petzoldt Lantern Slide Collection. LS.95.229

Tipis with what appears to be a sweat lodge beside them, ca. 1903–1925. MS 95 William A. Petzoldt Lantern Slide Collection. LS.95.229

I’d forgotten my culture, I’d forgotten the language, I’d forgotten the customs and practices. When I came to the Ini’pi [sweat lodge] and I tried to put into perspective how I felt while I was inside, something spiritual happened to me inside. There wasn’t any bolts of lightning, but I felt some strength, I felt some real power, something I’d never felt before. And for that whole week I spent that week thinking about what had happened to me inside I didn’t think that much about drinking. And it was the spirits replacing that alcohol, and I held that. I’ve never felt comfortable with sobriety; I’ve never felt comfortable with not drinking because I started drinking when I was 13 years old and it had stayed with me all my life. But from the strength of the Ini’pi, I’m not just comfortable with it anymore, I’m at home with it.

Image:

Tipis with what appears to be a sweat lodge beside them, ca. 1903–1925. MS 95 William A. Petzoldt Lantern Slide Collection. LS.95.229