Lakota Emergence Gallery Talk with Craig Howe
Craig Howe presented a Gallery Talk about curating the 14th Illustrator Show Lakota Emergence, on Tuesday, April 2nd at 7 pm.
Traditional Lakota belief is that their ancestors emerged onto this earth through Wasun Niya, a cave now known as Wind Cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Seven families of those ancestors, known as Pte people, followed a wolf from their home in the underworld to this earth. They were led by a man named Tokahe who was deceived, by the Trickster and Double Face woman, into believing this upperworld was a paradise.
Lakota Emergence focuses entirely on the short Lakota emergence narrative titled, “How the Lakota Came Upon the World,” written down by James Walker sometime between 1896, when he first arrived at Pine Ridge to serve as the agency’s physician, and 1917 when it was published by the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit divides the 1,251-word narrative into 16 “passages” that are paired with original artworks by distinguished and emerging contemporary Lakota artists. The artworks include abstract, expressionistic and representational paintings, a screen-printed collage, a ledger-style drawing, miniature and full-size clothing, a cut-glass mosaic, a bolo tie, a carved wood tableau and a spoon for the Trickster carved from a buffalo horn.
The descendants of the seven Pte families that emerged onto this world at Wasun Niya now number almost 114,000 citizens of six federally recognized tribes in the United States and one first nation in Canada. Their sovereign land base, once centered around the Black Hills, now encompasses over 18,000 square miles across South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan.
The 16 passages and artworks of Lakota Emergence recount the Lakota emergence narrative in written words and modern media, thereby illustrating that the emergence narrative continues to be a source of creativity and that Lakota arts, artists and nations continue to be vibrant and diverse today.
Craig Howe PhD is a member of The Brinton Museum’s American Indian Advisory Council and the founding director of CAIRNS, as well as the former director of D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History at the Newberry Library in Chicago.