In 2014 I was invited to participate in the O + Festival in Kingston, NY by painting a mural on Keegan Ales.
Pretty Nose was a Cheyenne Woman who lived near Fort Keogh in 1878. How she ended up there is unclear, but by piecing together historical accounts, we can sketch out a likely route.
In 1876, the Battle of Greasy Grass, otherwise known as the Battle of Little Big Horn took place very close to Fort Keogh in what is present day Montana. In that battle, the Cheyenne joined the Lakota and Arapaho to defeat Custer. After this defeat, the various groups disbanded as there was not enough grass to sustain their collective horses.
What transpired following this dispersal was years of battling attempts to forcibly relocate the tribes to reservations. It is unclear which band Pretty Nose was part of, but judging by her location in the year 1878 at Fort Keogh, it seems likely that she was with the group led by Little Wolf. However, she could also have been among the group that was imprisoned for a time at Fort Robinson with Red Cloud, who was released and allowed to go join the other Cheyenne at Fort Keogh in that same year.
The figures to the right and left of Pretty Nose in the mural are inspired by the Unity Riders, a contemporary group of Dakota people who make pilgrimages across the US & Canada on horse back as a prayer of Peace and Unity. Each winter, they travel 300 miles to the site of the largest mass execution in US History, which took place in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln ordered 38 Dakota warriors be simultaneously hung in Davenport, Iowa, for war crimes.
Learn more about this yearly pilgrimage here: Dakota 38 + 3
This mural was conceived of and inspired by the stories and journeys of these people and in remembrance of the history of First Nation people which is not taught in American or Canadian schools.
Further impetus for painting this mural was derived by the desire to give respect to Indigenous Women from the past and up into the present day and onwards into the 7th generation because they often go unrecognized in favor of their male counterparts. Major love and respect to the Women.