A collection of historical figures share a metaphysical landscape, a scene
and ceremony of some mystery. Comanche, Seminoles, Sioux, Apache are brought
together here as if one family. Women and children form the center of the
painting; they as others stare at us, asking something of us: witness,
remember, honor spirits passing, ways of life lost, as they honored once the
buffalo in ceremony.
Quanah Parker stands at both sides of this group, pictured in the two
worlds he lived in. On the left he is Comanche War Chief and wise spiritual
leader of his people. At the right, he stands in the white man's world,
commanding the best settlements he could get for the Comanches. Respected by
white men and Comanche, this man of both bloods fought for the survival of his
people, but knew how to adapt and help them survive in the new way of the
plains as cattle and fences replaced the buffalo.
Above on this empty prairie that once flourished with wild game, the
buffalo skull ceremony pays homage to the spirit of the buffalo. Facing us,
looking us squarely in the eye, these stand: Quanah Parker, his children, a
Seminole woman, an Apache woman, part of the ragtag group led by Geronimo, who
held off the U.S. Army for years, and Big Foot, as he was found, frozen on the
plains of Wounded Knee in 1891.
These people stand like another layer in the history of time, like the
stratified rocks behind them. The painting serves as a ceremony, a prayer to
honor their passing, like the buffalo skull ceremony performed above them on
the empty prairie. "Our going was with heavy hearts, broken
- And so it was over.
- I did not know then how much was ended...
- I can see that something else died there
- in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard.
- A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.
-Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks