The relationship between Native peoples and the horse will be illustrated through the exhibit “A Song for the Horse Nation,” opening November 14 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center. Starting with the return of the horse to the Americas in 15th century, the exhibition traces how native people adapted the horse into their cultural and spiritual lives and integrated it into their geographic expansion, warfare and defense.
“A Song for the Horse Nation” will present 95 works, including horse trappings, clothing and photographs and will close March 7, 2011. The exhibition will then continue at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., from June 2011 through January 2013. Afterward, the exhibition is expected to tour nationally through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service program (SITES).
Included in the exhibition will be a Lakota winter count (ca. 1902) by Long Soldier (Hunkpapa
Lakota) that depicts when horses were first sighted by the community. The exhibition also includes a dance stick (ca. 1890) by No Two Horns (Hunkpapa Lakota), created to honor his horse that died at the Battle of Big Horn.
Visitors can also see examples of elaborate horse trappings, including a horse crupper adorned with fine quillwork (Cree or Red River Metis, ca. 1850) and clothing adorned with images of the horse, such as a colorful Lakota baby bonnet (South Dakota or North Dakota, ca. 1900). New work has also been commissioned for the exhibition. “A Song for the Horse Nation” was curated by museum curator Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota).
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center is located at One Bowling Green in New York City, across from Battery Park. The museum is free and open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. For information, call 212-514-3700 or visit www.americanindian.si.edu.