Native Americans had once lived closely with the land around them, relying on the animals and plants for food, shelter, clothing, and even medicines. However, as times changed and white trappers, the military, and settlers arrived, changes in their everyday lives were imminent.
The changes the Lakota had gone through touched every aspect of their culture, spirituality, and daily etiquette. For example, as the buffalo, who the Lakota heavily relied on, were hunted to the brick of extinction, Lakota became more reliant on cotton, canvas and wool blend materials, instead of their more traditional buffalo, deer and elk hides. These subtle changes, which might not seem much, threw the Lakota (and other Native Americans) into Cultural disarray.
The Lakota, like other Native Americans, could of fallen completely into Cultural oblivion at this time. However, because of their strong sense of self, and their people, they held on to their identifications by evolving to the changes around them. A good example here would be in this next image. Instead of abandoning their Cultural symbols, they were combined within the new fabrics being worn and therefore, handed down through the family and people, never losing their significance and connection.
This small act of changing and evolving with the circumstances that faced them during this time, meant that today our people are still able to carry on many of the traditions, understandings, and values practiced by the ancestors.
This can be clearly seen at the modern day Pow Wow (Wacipi). If you ask a dancer about his regalia, he will tell you the significance of the design and color; a true testimony to the efforts our ancestors made to keep our Culture alive and thriving.
Melvin War Eagle
Artist / Designer/ Founder