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Handsome Morning -- A Dakota

In this studio portrait, the Brooklyn artist Harry Edwards painted the Native American Handsome Morning, wearing a fringed shift with painted emblems, a bead-and-quill necklace, beaded moccasins, and a ceremonial blanket of fur-lined buffalo hide painted with abstract motifs (a speciality of Dakota women). Edward's identification of his sitter as a Dakota, or a Sioux, is meaningful because the Sioux retained perhaps the most lasting hold on white imaginations owing to the charismatic Ghost Dance movement. Inspired by the visions of a Paiute Indian, a wave of the Sioux communities began the practice of the Ghost Dance in the late nineteenth century to bring about the return of legions of their dead and of Sioux lands to their natural state. White fears of the movement's emotional force ultimately led to the murder of Sitting Bull and the violent confrontation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890.


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