To those interested in studying the designs employed in decorating material of various kinds, an inspection should be made of the specimens from the Sarsi Indians. Their designs usually consist of a simple geometrical element combined in different colors to make the larger geometrical design which is repeated several times.
The Tower Room in this hall of the American Museum of Natural History is devoted to the collections from the Blackfoot Indians. Models, showing the method of preparing the raw skin of the buffalo and deer, in all its various processes, from the time of the killing of the animal to the finished product, are exhibited, together with specimens of clothing, utensils, implements and weapons used in war and the chase by the blackfoot indians,.
The western portion of the hall is given over to the collections secured from the Gros Ventre, Arapaho, Nez Perce, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Ute and Shoshone.
Here one may see figures in life size of dancers in the various Arapaho Age Societies, gorgeous war bonnets, models of shelters and methods of cooking, peculiar types of baby boards, women's dresses decorated with shells, weapons and many kinds of decorated articles of dress.
The center of the hall contains an unusually interesting Blackfoot Indian tipi, fitted up to show the home life of these Indians. The paintings on the sides of the tipi are those of otters and are supposed to represent a vision of the owner. This tipi was made in 1874 and was used for some time by Heavy Runner, a noted Blackfoot Indian.
In other parts of this hall of the American Museum of Natural History will be found a genuine medicine pipe from the Blackfoot Indians, and a model of the Sun Dance * of the Arapaho Indians.
The Sun Dance is a ceremonial which is found among most of the Indian tribes of the Plains. The Arapaho call it Worship Dance or Sacrifice Lodge. It is held annually in early summer, in fulfilment of a vow made during the preceding winter by some member of the tribe who wishes a sick relative to recover. This man, who is accompanied by his wife, is the most important of the dancers. He is placed in the middle of the semicircle of dancers and is painted white. The dance lasts three days and three nights, and during this time the dancers neither eat nor drink. Singing and drumming continue most of the time even at night. The dancers are expected to exert themselves to the utmost to prove their devotion. On the last day they are often overcome by heat and thirst, but they are not allowed to drop out of the dance. The dancing consists in regularly rising on the toes and looking fixedly at the fork of the sacred tree in the center of the lodge. All the dancers are in charge of old men, who are called their "grandfathers." These attend them, instruct them how to act, and sit by them almost continuously.
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