Joseph Henry Sharp
(1859–1953)Blackfeet Sun Dance
oil on canvas
12 × 18 inches
signed and dated lower right
Hugh Dempsey, historian of the Blackfoot, wrote, “In the spring, the people moved out onto the prairies, sometimes in small family groups or bands depending on the movements of the buffalo. Some people would go deep into the foothills to cut new tipi poles or travois poles, while others went to trading posts or killed enough buffalo to make new lodge covers. In early summer they joined together in large camps, sometimes comprising a whole tribe, so that the Sun Dance and other rituals could be held. During this time, women visited their families, warrior societies held meetings, hours were spent in gambling and horse racing, and marriages were arranged. The large camp provided a rare chance for visiting and renewing old friendships.”
Although reservation life had changed the Blackfeet world by 1903, the cultural importance of the Sun Dance was very much alive when Joseph Henry Sharp visited this camp located on the eastern prairie bordering what is now Glacier National Park.
Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, Reno, Nevada, 2019
Private collection, California
Larry Len Peterson, The American West Reimagined: Gems from the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction
, Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, 2021, p. 335, illustratedView more information
Surface is in excellent condition. Canvas is lined. Several specks of inpainting in sky, to left of teepee.