Memory and Vision

Arts, Cultures, and Lives of Plains Indian Peoples

Emma I. Hansen

  • Published: 2008
  • Subject Listing: Art History / Native American and Indigenous Art; Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 320 pp., 300 illus., 250 in color, 8.5 x 11 in.
  • Published with: Buffalo Bill Historical Center
  • Contents

The story of the Native peoples of the Great Plains - including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Lakota, Shoshone, Blackfeet, Kiowa, Pawnee, Arikara, Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Crow tribes - is integral to the history and heritage of the American West. These buffalo-hunting and horticultural people once dominated the vast open region of the Great Plains, west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains, that stretches from present-day Canada to Texas.

The Native people of the Plains found this vast, harsh land rich in resources, with tall grass prairies abundant with herds of buffalo and other grazing animals and fertile river valleys that supported farming. Economic practices were intertwined with spiritual ceremonial activities and core beliefs about the people's relationships to the land, sky, and universe. The magnificent arts of Plains Indian people also had such spiritual underpinnings, which, together with their historical and cultural contexts, can provide greater insight into and appreciation of their tribal significances. Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 images of objects from traditional feather bonnets to war shirts, bear claw necklaces, pipe tomahawks, beadwork, and quillwork, as well as archival photographs of historical events and individuals and photographs of contemporary Native life, Memory and Vision is a comprehensive examination of the environments and historic forces that forged these cultures, and a celebration of their ongoing presence in our national society.
Emma I. Hansen , a member of the Pawnee Nation, is curator of the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.

"The expansive collection of cultural artifacts in the Plains Indian Museum of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is captured in this book through vivid, color photography and explained through descriptive commentary by the Plains Indians."
-Laura L. Summers, PhD, The American Association of School Librarians, 2008

"Memory and Vision is the story of the Native American Indians of the Great Plains including such tribes as the Cheyenne, Lakota, Shoshone Blackfeet, Comanche, Hidatsa, Crow and other Plains tribes. It describes the fundamental traditions of these cultures in brilliantly colored photographs and beautifully detailed descriptions of spiritual, cultural and economic life."
-Dr. Terri Maggio, Public Library Association, 2008


1. People of the Plains

2. Land of Many Gifts
-Women's Roles / Beatrice Medicine

3. Buffalo and the People
-The Buffalo as Part of the Mandan-Hidatsa Way of Life / Gerard Baker

4 Honor and Celebration
-Crow Tribal Leaders / Joseph Medicine Crow

5 Adversity and Renewal
-A New and Different Life on a Small Part of a Very Old Place / Arthur Amiotte

6 Our People Today
-A Cheyenne in Cyber Space / Bently Spang

The Authors

"This visually impressive volume . . . . has combined the museum's stunning collection of historical and contemporary art and artifacts with a series of essays designed not simply to describe those pieces, but to place them in their widest social, cultural, and historical contexts . . . an important addition to the literature on material culture and identity."
-Museum Anthropology

"This welcome and long-awaited volume will be an important addition to every library concerned with art and culture on the Great Plains."
-South Dakota History

"Hansen and her contributing authors have produced a volume of immense importance to scholars in a wide variety of disciplines. Each of the chapters contains a wealth of quotations that brings a living voice to the text. Color-enhanced historic photographs further add to the reader's ability to connect the remarkable pieces featured in the book with the women and men who made and used them. The true beneficiaries of the work that Hansen and the others invested in this book are Indian peoples today and their children to come. The elders, after all, have much to teach us about beauty, honor, and strength."
-New Mexico Historical Review

"[A] visually stunning volume with exceptionally high-quality photographs of objects in the collections, reproduced in color with equal concern for quality. . . . Memory and Vision is essential for any library of American Indian art and serves as an excellent introduction for anyone interested in learning about the history and cultures of the Native peoples of the Great Plains."
-Journal of Folklore Research

"Readers looking for a general introduction to Plains Indian culture will find this book attractive and useful..Recommended."

"Stunning photographs of people, artwork and everyday objects such as drums, dresses and dolls make reading Memory and Vision a rewarding experience."
-Alaska Airlines Magazine

"This publication-based on the award-winning reinterpretation and reinstallation in 2000 of the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming-is much more than a catalog of that institution's collections. ...Illustrated with color photographs of objects and archival images and illuminated by quotes from interviews, ethnographies, and oral histories, Hansen's volume surveys the cultures of Plains people in six thematic chapters with brief interchapter essays by contemporary Plains scholars and artists Beatrice Medicine, Gerard Baker, Joseph Medicine Crow, Arthur Amiotte, and Bentley Spang."
-Great Plains Quarterly