Howard Terpning: Spirit of the Plains People

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9780867130607: Howard Terpning: Spirit of the Plains People
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Terpning creates award-winning images that are powerful yet intimate glimpses into the Plains Indians' "glory days."

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From the Inside Flap:

Howard Terpning, often referred to as the Storyteller of the Native American People, has concentrated his award-filled career on painting pictures about some of the Great Plains tribes: Blackfeet, Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, Commanche and Apache. Terpning is intimately familiar with the details of their lives, from facial bone structure to everyday dress, from ceremonies to the rhythms of community life. Terpning's paintings cover the Plains Indian's "glory days" of the early nineteenth century up to their final, desperate demise: the extinction of the buffalo and the displacement and disease of the tribes as a result of the westward expansion of the white man.

His paintings not only tell a story, they pull the viewer into the emotional life of the individuals portrayed. There are moments of peace, humor, pride, hard-won wisdom, young defiance and fear. The viewer feels the cold, the hunger and the desperate poverty of hunters when the great buffalo herds are extinct.

"I want to show them as people who were not always at battle but a people who raised children, made love, cooked meals, hunted buffalo. Theirs was a life on the move," says Terpning, "always looking for fresh grass, for buffalo. Today we tend to romanticize it, but in reality it was a hard life. The thing that makes it appealing, however, is that it was such a free existence."

Terpning is most proud of praise from Native Americans today. At a recent art exhibition a Cheyenne woman stopped him to say " I just want to touch you because you are the only one who perceives our people as we perceive ourselves."

In Spirit of the Plains People, western historian Don Hedgpeth interweaves the fascinating history of the tribes, the conflicts between them, the dwindling of the resources they depended on and the spiritual interconnectedness of every aspect of their individual and community lives.

From the Back Cover:

Relations between the Blackfoot and the white man got off to a bad beginning when members of the Lewis and Clark expedition killed two Piegan warriors in the summer of 1806. The Piegans were one of three bands that made up the Blackfoot nations. From that day forward, for the next sixty years, the Blackfoot would prove to be a fierce and formidable foe; an implacable enemy of white men forever. Blackfoot chiefs and the leaders of the various warrior societies met in council to develop strategy and make plans for their continuing crusade against the intruder. Young men listened to the wisdom of the elders, and no one spoke at all of appeasement, or surrender.

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