Dancing on the Mall: New Statue Represents Pueblo Culture at American Indian Museum

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Now that the snow has melted and the sun is shining, we've finally gotten a chance to admire a new sculpture over at the National Museum of the American Indian.

The 12-foot, 2,000-pound bronze statue, called “Buffalo Dancer II,” stands outside the entrance to the museum. It is the first monumental sculpture to represent American Indians on the Mall, the museum said, and is one of the few statues to represent a living culture: the Pueblos of New Mexico.

The statue’s artist, George Rivera, is from the Pueblo of Pojoaque, where he is also the governor. The New Mexican artist drew inspiration from the Buffalo Dance, a celebration of giving thanks. In these celebrations, male and female dancers keep rhythm to songs that offer prayers of good hunting and plentiful food to people around the world.

Buffalo are a symbol of hope, renewal and harmony in Native American culture, and Pueblo dancers have honored the tradition for more than a thousand years.

“Buffalo Dancer II” isn’t the only work by Rivera depicting the celebration. The original statue, “Buffalo Dancer I,” is found closer to home: it stands on the grounds of Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, which was built two years ago on Pueblo of Pojoaque land.

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