Instructor Thunderhawk Curates Harvard Exhibit

Nov 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-2: K-12 Education, Winter 2009, Tribal College News


LEDGER WISE. Butch Thunderhawk, UTTC tribal arts instructor, studies a drawing from the “Half Moon Ledger” as he works on an exhibit for the Peabody Museum at Harvard. United Tribes News photo by Dennis J. Neumann

Butch Thunderhawk, 61, (Standing Rock Sioux) is the co-curator of an exhibit that opened in April 2009 at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. The title is “Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West.” The exhibit centers on newly discovered ledger book drawings by several Lakota warriors in the years leading up to the Custer Fight at Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn).

Thunderhawk has spent 36 years with United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) where he has specialized in the interpretation and creation of Plains tribal objects and art. As the college’s tribal arts instructor he is a beloved figure on campus, an accomplished and well-known artist, and one of the most respected members of the faculty.

Those qualities led to a successful association with the Peabody Museum over the past decade, taking him to the Boston and Cambridge, MA, area as a visiting scholar. It began with the Nakota Horse Conservancy project and led to the Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial (see TCJ, Vol.14, No.3) and the Peabody-Monticello Native Arts Project.

For this project he was awarded a Hardy Fellowship to co-curate the ledger exhibit with collaborator and friend Dr. Castle McLaughlin, associate curator of North American Ethnology at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

“Butch is wonderful to work with, and his installation is going to be spectacular,” says McLaughlin. “Wiyohpiyata is the first-ever major Peabody exhibit to be designed and co-curated by a contemporary artist and the first co-curated by a Native American.” The Wiyohpiyata exhibit is scheduled to be on display through Aug. 31, 2011.

For more information, visit the website of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University:

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