Introduction Patagonia Andes Amazon Mesoamerica / Caribbean Southwest Plains / Plateau Woodlands California / Great Basin Northwest Coast Arctic / Subarctic Contemporary Art

Shield associated with Chief Arapoosh (Sore Belly, Apsáalooke [Crow], ca. 1795–1834)
ca. 1825
Buffalo hide, deer hide, bird head, feathers, pigment, brass tacks, wool cloth, horse hair
67 x 62 x 10 cm
Collected by William Wildschut

Arapoosh, also known as Sore Belly, was a prominent River Crow chief who lived in the first half of the 19th century. As a young man, while fasting, he received a shield, which gave him spiritual protection and the power of prophecy. Apsáalooke (Crow) shields almost always derive from powers of what could be referred to as the Above World. In Apsáalooke belief, the beings of the sky—the sun, moon, various stars, clouds, and also birds—are very potent. When a warrior had a vision that communicated to him the particular powers of his shield, he would depict those powers, often from the Above World, on the shield. Sometimes they would be represented by the attachment of feathers and bird heads.

This shield was owned by one of the most famous Apsáalooke warriors and leaders, Arapoosh. The shield is interpreted as depicting a hero twin named Thrown into the Spring, who at one time disappeared, taken into the sky. His brother asked several different birds for help, but it was only the cranes who knew where to find Thrown into the Spring so that he could be rescued by his brother.

Back to Top