Beauty, Honor, and Tradition: The Legacy of Plains Indian Shirts

December 10, 2000–November 4, 2001
New York, NY

Featuring forty-nine visually stunning and spiritually powerful Plains Indian shirts from NMAI's collections, Beauty, Honor, and Tradition: The Legacy of Plains Indian Shirts explores the beauty, power, history, iconography, construction, and materials of Plains Indian shirts from the nineteenth and twentieth century. The shirts in Beauty, Honor, and Tradition served many purposes beyond their obvious use as clothing. In nineteenth-century communities from southern Canada to northern Texas, they were made to honor warriors and tribal leaders, to adorn spiritual leaders, and to channel animal power. The imagery on the shirts depicted important events, such as battles, and served to educate youth about the values of shirt-wearers—generosity, honor, and bravery. Today, the Plains shirt lives on in regalia worn at powwows and community celebrations, and in shirts and jackets made to honor achievements in academia and sports. NMAI curator George Horse Capture (A'aninin [Gros Ventre]) and his son, Joe Horse Capture (A'aninin [Gros Ventre]), curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, worked together to provide this exhibition with an illuminating wealth of insight and information, each contributing his unique perspective, and bringing that of the Indian communities they visited, on these powerful shirts. Beauty, Honor, and Tradition is presented in collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.