Issues Background
Vol. 17 No. 3
Fall 2016
Fall 2016 Cover

On the Cover

The horse stick is a prominent feature of ceremonial dances, often celebrating the bearer’s feats of military valor. This tradition is alive today, both in the  artistry of this modern version by Bryan Akipa (Sisitonwan Dakota) and in the wartime heroism of American Indian veterans, such as the famous World War II horse raid of Joseph Medicine Crow (Apsaalooke [Crow]). This object is a fitting emblem for an issue devoted to our Museum’s new Congressional mandate of establishing a National Native American Veterans Memorial, to be dedicated on our grounds on Veteran’s Day 2020.

Dance Staff, 2008. Artist: Bryan Akipa, Sisitonwan Dakota [Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe] Sisseton, Lake Traverse Reservation; Roberts County; South Dakota. Materials: Wood, horsehair, hide, rawhide, turkey feather/feathers, commercially produced fabric patches/insignia, cotton twine/string, iron nails, glue, wood stain, paint.

Techniques: Carved, stained, painted, pyroengraved, wrapped, tied, glued.

Purchase from the artist, 2008. 37" x 2.9" x 11.8". (26/7158)


Smithsonian historian Herman Viola eulogizes his adopted brother, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In a military irony, a U.S. Army unit recruited from the Iroquois Six Nations of New York was posted to its historical homeland in North Carolina and heroically repulsed an attack led by several of the Confederacy’s most famous officers.
Toward the end of World War II, Joseph Medicine Crow (Apsaalooke [Crow]) performed one of the traditional Plains Indian feats of valor, relieving the enemy of his horses. Here in his words is that famous episode.
In spite of broken treaties, dispossession and oppression, men and women of the First Nations continue to serve in the U.S. military at a higher rate than any other ethnic group. Why do we fight? These excerpts from a travelling exhibit sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians give the reasons and celebrate the heroes of recent wars.
Indigenous artwork is taking to the streets, the sides of buildings and the landscaped grounds of major institutions, a movement toward accessible expression that our Museum is supporting. We present a long, but by no means exhaustive, sampling.