Exhibitions: Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains

This is a rare example of a tipi liner from earlier Reservation times (1880–1920) painted by a known warrior, Rain-in-the-Face (Ité Omágaˇzu). While visiting Standing Rock reservation, the artist Edwin Willard Deming watched Rain-in-the-Face paint the liner, which the warrior then presented to him as a gift. Rain-in-the-Face lived in the most tumultuous time for Plains people, when large numbers of American soldiers and settlers invaded the prairies, but this conflict is not depicted. Instead, Rain-in-the-Face portrays the seminal events that made him an honored warrior. The opposing combatants are mostly Crow warriors, the Lakota’s traditional enemies. Clothing, hairstyles, face painting, weaponry, and horse gear provide clues to understanding the actions and identities of the participants.

In this detail, two figures ride on the same horse; the front rider is male with a red-painted forehead and carries a shield decorated with a bird similar to the shield owned by Rain-in-the-Face. The second rider, much smaller and probably female, has braids and wears a blue dress with a flipped-back skirt. This scene may relate to an incident in which Rain-in-the-Face is said to have saved the daughter of the Upper Yanktonai Black Prairie Dog by extending his quirt to her and swinging her up onto his horse when their camp was attacked by the U.S. Army.