Post by kingsleybray on Sept 28, 2015 5:31:28 GMT -5
Victor Douville is one of the greatest living authorities on Lakota culture. Everything he writes is worth seriously pondering.There are a few of Victor's slide presentations on the internet, worth tracking down.
Who was it sounding out the possibility of investigating the use of pectoral crosses as a badge of office amongst the Lakota - as seen in the Big Road rosta, as well as n numerous photographs of Lakota leaders in the late 1870s (and among Cheyenne and Arapaho)? Just curious to see if anything developed. I'm also curious to know if they originated on the Southern Plains - I'm thinking of the William Emory(?) painting of the Kiowa (or Comanche) Mucho Toro (or Toro Mucho), from 1854. I'm also curious about the use of the knife club as a badge of office among the Lakota - as seen on Standing Bear's drawings of several Lakota principals as well as their use by men like He Dog, Long Dog and Spotted Eagle - and if Ron Papandrea is right about the photo identification - Black Bull/Lame Brule, leader of the Lakota remaining in Canada after Sitting Bull surrendered.
Last Edit: Sept 28, 2015 14:36:31 GMT -5 by grahamew
The descendants of the few Lakotas and Dakotas that remained in Canada after the Great Sioux War are still there, estimated now at some 5000 souls. The Lakotas obtained a small reservation there, called Wood River. Ron Papandrea's good study "They Never Surrendered" deals with this subject. Also see "Living with Strangers" by David McCrady. I believe we had a thread about this some time ago.
graham the article on the use of pectoral crosses you are refering to is the one in Whispering Winds magazine authored by our friend Ephriam Dickson i believe. As to the knife clubs it probably is a reference to a head akicita. During the heyday of the hide trade soldiers were elected to look after the traders property while in a Lakota village so they didn't get pilfered or interfered with. These soldiers wore black face paint and were armed with clubs which they were happy to weild against any offender.The knife clubs could well be a development on that theme and used in the 1870's as a badge of office for a head soldier.
We non Indian enthusiasts are quick to find symbolic meaning in things.Yes, crosses were a generic symbol of the four directions in Lakota culture but just as in our society people who wear crucifixes as articles of jewelry for personal adornment does not mean they are wearing a cross for its religious significance - simply as a fasion accessory. As Ephriam's article states silver crosses originated in the southwest and probably reached the Lakota through the Cheyenne and quickly became fasionable adorment among the elite who could afford them.It is no coincidence we see photos of leading men and "chiefs" wearing them as they would be relatively expensive trade items that only the social elite could afford. "Keeping up with the Jones" is a universal feature of human nature.So personally i don't think they were a formal badge of office among the Lakota but it is no coincidence that important men wore them.
While I agree that these German silver crosses do not have any religious significance, I still think that they do communicate something beyond just simple adornment.
The strongest evidence for this is the so called "Big Road Roster," a drawing of heads of family created by an unknown Oglala in 1881 as they were being counted at the Standing Rock Agency following their surrender from Canada. Notice that each drawing of a head of household includes a glyph for their name, but that the representation of the person is fairly standard, stripped of anything unimportant. Then there are objects placed next to them to indicate their role in that band, for example, a pipe (chanupa) and forked pipe-bag (cantouha okijata) for band leaders. (Big Road, the most influential leader shown here, is illustrated wearing a vest. Coincidence? I suspect not.)
Several have war clubs indicating their role as head akichita -- suspect that this includes the distinctive three-bladed war cub (canmilokatanpi) we see in photographs. Remember that the Lakota word for policeman (cannakseyuha) translates literally "he who possesses a war club." Some have stripes purposely marked on their face -- as we know from Walker this communicates distinct roles in Oglala society.
I think it is clear that the unknown Oglala artist was showing not only the name of each head of family that had surrendered, but what their position or leadership role was within the tiyospaye. Believing that only important information was included in the drawing, note that the roster shows four individuals wearing the German silver crosses, the same individuals who also appear in photographs with these symbols. I think that this strongly argues that they had some significance beyond wearer's taste. Exactly what that communicate has unfortunately been lost through time and difference in culture.
I also look at the delegation photographs to Washington, D.C. as filled with these same symbols of authority, as Lakota leaders prepared to meet with the U.S. leader. To communicate their role, they are carrying these same types of objects all the way to the nation's capital, through their meetings with the President and stops at the photographer's studio. Did He Dog expect to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat in 1877 when he hauled his large three-bladed war club all the way to the nation's capital? No, I think it was meant to communicate his position within Oglala society and to give authority when he spoke during the councils with the President.