Object of the Month
Buffalo Horn Belt

“Winyan Wánakikśin” Buffalo Horn Belt


Image Credit: Kevin and Valerie Pourier (Oglala Lakota), “Winyan Wánakikśin” (“Women Defenders of Others”) Buffalo Horn Belt, 2018. (NMAI 27/0215)


WOMAN POWER: Lakota artists Kevin and Valerie Pourier created this buffalo horn belt to honor the strength and perseverance of Native women. They were inspired to do so by the women of different tribal backgrounds who participated in the 2016-17 protests at Standing Rock, N.D., to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. "I saw women cooking all day, cleaning the camp all night, then jumping up to run and stand in front of a bulldozer," said Valerie Pourier. "Seeing that strength and power ... made me proud to be a part of these times."

The belt's buffalo horn "conchas" are hand-carved and inlaid with earth colors derived from stones and shells. Each features a portrait of a distinguished Native American woman known for her "powerfulness and dedication to the people." Each woman chose a design that was meaningful to her. The noted Cherokee lawyer and playwright, Mary Kathryn Nagel, chose a turtle design because of its importance in Cherokee oral tradition. Jodi Archambault, a Lakota woman who served as a deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs during the Obama administration, selected a traditional Lakota beaded design from a dress that she dances in. On the belt's buckle, four sets of women's hands--each pair a different skin tone--reach out to hold "mother Earth."