Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers
Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World
One of the finest examples of Native American pictorial art, Black Hask’s drawing book is published here in full and in color for the first time. Having recently emerged from obscurity (the book appeared for auction in 1994 after being abandoned for decades in a file cabinet), these seventy-six vivid drawings now stand as the most complete visual record of Lakota art of the early Reservation period (1875—95).
A Lakota artist and medicine man living on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Black Hawk completed these pencil and ink drawings during the winter of 1880-1881. The drawings were commissioned by William Edward Caton the trader at the Cheyenne River Agency, who paid Black Hawk fifty cents for each drawing and later gathered them together in a handsome, leather-bound volume. The drawings depict a wide range of subjects ranging from ceremonial activity, personal visions, warfare, and historic events, to scenes of daily life, nature studies, and hunting. Some of Black Hawk’s illustrations are the only known drawings of ceremonies described in ethnographic works such as Black Elk Speaks, the famous account of visions experienced by Lakota holy man Black Elk.
Drawing on ethnographic accounts and her discussions with Lakota interviewees and scholars, Janet Berlo’s comprehensive and insightful text presents a fulls’ rounded picture of the cultural background from which Black Hawk’s drawings emerged. Her analysis of Black Hawk’s extraordinary images examines their potent iconography and stylistic elements, and places them within the Lakota drawing tradition. A brief history of the Lakota is also provided, describing what is known of their early origins, of Black Hawk’s time, and of their trajectory into the twentieth century.
An invaluable contribution to our knowledge of Native American history and art, Black Hawk’s drawing book is a window on a fascinating and eloquent world.
~ 76 color photos ~ 20 b/w photos — ©20