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Arts & Life

Art Exhibit Celebrates Buffalo Culture

Courtesy Badlands National Park


An art exhibit honoring the buffalo and its role in the Lakota culture is the focus of various interpretive events at Rapid City’s Dahl Arts Center.

The Pte` Oyate – or “Buffalo Nation” – art exhibit explores the unique relationship between the Lakota and the buffalo that has existed for centuries.

Craig Howe is director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies. Howe says the importance of having the Pte` Oyate exhibit in the heart of the Black Hills can’t be overstated.

“It demonstrates and manifests that these are living, contemporary artists dealing with a living, contemporary culture,” Howe explains. “This culture goes back to the beginning of time…at this place…right up here in the Black Hills or where the Lakota emerged from the underworld. Where the buffalo emerged on to this world. So, to be in this place…He Sapa…it brings the culture as a living, ongoing culture.” 

Howe notes that the art work is not only serious, but also humorous and ironic and causes the viewer to think.

Lakota elder and assistant professor at Black Hills State University Jace DeCory stopped by to watch the film “Return of the Native”. The 20-minute documentary explores the reintroduction of the buffalo to tribes across the country.

DeCory says the survival of the buffalo and the Lakota are inexorably linked.

“I look upon it as a spiritual renaissance of our people,” observes DeCory. “And folks that are trying to bring the buffalo back are our saviors in a way because we need the buffalo to live. And the buffalo need us, as well.”

Upcoming Pte` Oyate events include a panel discussion with the artists whose work is on display. A showing of the film “Good Meat” – about the health benefits of a buffalo diet, is also scheduled.