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Joseph Henry Sharp
Making Sweet Grass Medicine, Blackfoot Ceremony
about 1920
oil
30 x 36 1/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Victor Justice Evans



Sharp first traveled to southeastern Montana, home of the Northern Plains Indian tribes—the Crow, Cheyenne, Sioux, and Blackfoot—in 1889. The dress and hairstyles of these Blackfoot men, as well as the ceremony's accessories, reflect the artist's customary attentiveness to documentary detail. Using smoke as a cleansing agent to prepare magic fetishes, this solemn trio is engrossed in the therapeutic ritual's quiet drama.