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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.

PROVENANCE
Private collection, California

LITERATURE
Larry Len Peterson, The American West Reimagined: Gems from the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, 2021, p. 335, illustrated

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