“Horse Nation of the Oceti Sakowin” At Red Cloud Heritage Center

Oct 27, 2016

An art exhibit that explores how horses have shaped the history, spirituality, and culture of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people is being presented at the Red Cloud Indian School’s Heritage Center. The exhibit features more than 80 works including paintings, sculpture and beadwork. 

Keith Brave Heart says the idea for the “Horse Nation of the Oceti Sakowin” art exhibit began with his film “We Are a Horse Nation”. He says that project began with the elders.

“Well…it all stems back to inspiration from hearing tribal elders tell a story about the horse and spirituality and its dynamics as far as place within our traditions,” recalls Brave Heart.

Lakota artist and filmmaker Keith Brave Heart.
Credit Photo by Jim Cortez

The horse’s place within those traditions ranges from use for travel and in combat to ranch animals and in rodeo competitions. This horse is also now used for therapy…especially among the youth.

Brave Heart traveled to reservations across the region to obtain stories about the horse from men and women, children and elders for his film.

He also contacted the Red Cloud Heritage Center for assistance.

“They sent me a lot of the images that they identified in their data base that had horse in it or that had titles involving the horse…materials that included the horse like horse hair or whatever<” Brave Heart explains. “And I went through them and selected the ones that I thought looked visually cool that I would like to include in the film. So we had all of those kind of marked and pooled and identified. But eventually just due to the time and how much it took for the editing process…I wasn’t able to include any of those images from the Heritage Center into the film.”

That art work along with additional submissions was used for the exhibit.

The “Horse Nation of the Oceti Sakowin”…or Seven Council Fires…exhibit is at the Red Cloud Heritage Center through December 3. From there it will tour the state

Brave Heart notes that the goal of the exhibit is not only to educate Native people about their own history with the horse, but to present the animal as a common bond for all people who respect what the Lakota refer to as "Sunka Wakan" (Sacred Dog).  

Related links:

Red Cloud Heritage Center