Indian exhibit opens at National Gallery

May 22, 1992|By Chuck Myers | Chuck Myers,Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- To ensure success for the latest exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, Director J. Carter Brown tried something different.

He held a ceremonial pipe smoking to bless the exhibit with two Indians, Al Chandler and George P. Horse Capture, and two other officials involved in the exhibit, which is devoted to the rich heritage of North America's native peoples.

"Art of the American Indian Frontier: The Collection of Chandler and Pohrt" has 152 Eastern Woodlands and Great Plain Native American artifacts dating from the 19th century.

The exhibit is drawn from more than 4,000 Indian art works collected by the late Milford G. Chandler and Richard Pohrt.

The display includes apparel worn by men and women, weapons, headdresses, pipes and various tools.

The garments on display range from a simple Southern Cheyenne buckskin dress decorated with rows of cowrie shells to the spiritual Arapaho Ghost Dance dress with its vibrant colors and symbolism.

Pipe smoking is a sacred and practiced method of giving thanks to the spirits. Many pipes on display have elaborate designs and figures.

Native Americans used pictographics to record tribal history. On display is a Sioux Winter Count, which follows a tribe's history from 1823 to 1911 through pictographics and entry titles in ink on cotton.

Perhaps the most striking items on display are the magnificent tribal headdresses. They were the sign of honor, valor and a proven warrior.

"Art of the American Frontier" will be on display until Jan. 24, 1993. The National Gallery is on Constitution Avenue between Seventh and Third streets NW.

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