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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Harvard Offers Peace Pipe

September-October 2001

Butch Thunderhawk, a Hunkpapa Sioux artist, and his colleague Wayne Pruse, both of the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, paid a two-day visit this summer to examine certain objects in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. They looked at war shields, clubs, arrows, lances, and pipes collected by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their epic expedition from 1804 through 1806. The Peabody has the only surviving Indian materials gathered by Lewis and Clark--a small but most interesting collection--and the museum is collaborating with several institutions and tribal representatives to help celebrate the bicentennial of the expedition from 2003 through 2006.

Thunderhawk--a painter, sculptor, and stained-glass artist--has been commissioned by Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, to recreate Indian objects presented to Jefferson by Lewis and Clark. He is shown [in print edition] holding a peace pipe, its shank decorated with eagle feathers, dyed porcupine quills wrapped around thin rawhide, horsehair dyed red, and mallard skins. He will attempt to simulate the pipe from natural materials, avoiding the man-made. If obtaining eagle feathers poses a problem, he will paint feathers to approximate the look of them. For the Sioux, says Thunderhawk, the stem of a pipe represents the backbone of the people.