Great Plains Art Museum presents new exhibit on U.S.-Sioux conflict

Released on 03/20/2012, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHERE: Lentz Gallery, Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St., Hewit Place

Lincoln, Neb., March 20th, 2012 —
Christina L. McPhee,
Christina L. McPhee, "Ruins: Fort Laramie Officer's Quarters I," 1993, mixed media, gift of Frederick and Norma Luebke
Alfred Sully,�
Alfred Sully,�"Prairie Fire," n.d.,�oil,�gift of Dr. John and Elizabeth Christlieb

            The Great Plains Art Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has opened "Confrontations and Conciliatory Acts: Art and Artifacts of U.S. and Sioux Nation Conflict," a new permanent collection exhibition in the museum's Lentz Gallery.

            The exhibition coincides with the Center for Great Plains Studies' 38th Interdisciplinary Symposium "1862-2012: The Making of the Great Plains" and contains works from the museum's permanent collection, loans from private collections and ethnographic artifacts from the University of Nebraska State Museum.

            An 1862 uprising in Minnesota sparked the first of the Plains Indian Wars, and the subsequent encounters, treaties, battles and massacres had immeasurable effects on the development of the Great Plains landscape and its cultural inhabitants. The exhibition covers some of the events leading up to the 1862 Great Sioux Uprising and many of the more familiar conflicts and encounters leading up to the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. Many artworks are contemporary to the events, but the exhibition also includes some modern reflections.

            An artifact of unique interest is a painted muslin by an unknown Lakota Sioux artist depicting the war deeds of Conquering Bear. According to co-curator Amber Mohr, "It is an enigmatic piece that leaves itself open to interpretation and the story of Conquering Bear and the Grattan Massacre (1854) is an excellent example of how good intentions on both sides often led to misunderstandings and conflict." The artifact is on loan from the NU State Museum.

            Also intriguing to viewers will be a fully reproduced letter from the papers of John G. Bourke from the Great Plains Art Museum archives. The letter is by Col. Joseph J. Reynolds and details the Big Horn Expedition leading up to the Battle of Powder River.

            "Reynolds' failure to destroy the military supplies and ponies of Crazy Horse's encampment is credited with contributing heavily to the U.S. military loss at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and led to Reynolds' subsequent court-marshal for dereliction of duty," Mohr said. "The details in the letter show how difficult the expedition was on Reynolds and his men, and offers an intimate perspective on the conditions endured by troops.

            "Although we could not hope to provide a comprehensive depiction of every incident and participant of U.S. and Sioux Nation conflict, the exhibition aims to give insight into some of the powerful events that so shaped the Great Plains region."

            The Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St., is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1:30 to 5 p.m. Sundays (closed Mondays, holiday weekends and between exhibitions). There is no admission charge. The Lentz Gallery is on the lower level. For more information, telephone 402-472-6220, send email, visit, or contact Mohr at 402-472-0599 or by email.