A Song for the Horse Nation: Horses in Native American Cultures

A Song for the Horse Nation / Online Shop / Birchbark Books & Native Arts

A Song for the Horse Nation: Horses in Native American Cultures

  • Paperback
  • Fulcrum Publishing (2006)
  • SKU: 9781555911126
Regular price $14.95
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This slender, informative volume gathers poems, photographs and brief contemporary essays alongside pieces from the National Museum of the American Indian to memorialize the relationship between Native Americans and their horses. In a somewhat disjointed introduction, historian Herman J. Viola observes that Native Americans had "little for which to thank Christopher Columbus except the horse" and that while "the marriage of horse and Indian" was brief (it lasted little more than a century), it was "a thing of beauty." Said marriage certainly produced beautiful artifacts: images of horses were painted onto wooden qeros (cups made for the ritual consumption of maize beer), drawn on muslin, woven into bags and blankets and beaded onto coats and leggings. Horses were given away at naming celebrations and memorial ceremonies ("Generosity is more important than possession," writes Her Many Horses); they were stolen from enemy tribes as proof of a warrior's bravery; they were ridden in battles both real and staged (one 1906 photograph shows the Assiniboine and A'aninin tribes, who were once enemies, sitting down to feast after a mock battle to "relive the old days"). With its numerous photographs and succinct, workmanlike text, this small work is like a minimuseum exhibit between two covers-it intrigues, but it also leaves readers wishing for more.

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