Highlights From “Infinity of Nations”
A new exhibition explores thousands of years of artwork from the Native nations of North, Central and South America
- By Jess Righthand
- Smithsonian.com, January 04, 2011
(Walter Larrimore, National Museum of the American Indian)
Successful warriors on the Great Plains in the mid-19th century painted their war deeds on shirts or robes. This Apsáalooke warrior’s robe—one of only two known to exist today—tells of intertribal warfare between the Apsáalooke (also known as Crow) and the Blackfoot, who lived on either side of the Missouri River. “They were neighbors, but they were also enemies,” says Ganteaume.
The elongated human forms on the robe are characteristic of Apsáalooke art of the era. They depict six different vignettes, in which the warrior takes a gun, seizes a bow, strikes two enemies, kills an enemy, and returns to his people with the enemy’s guns. William H. Schieffelin, the son of a wealthy New York couple, acquired the robe from a Blackfoot in Fort Benton, Montana, in 1861. How the Blackfoot came to possess such a rare piece of Apsáalooke ephemera is not known.