Joyce, Juanita, and Jessa Rae Growing Thunder’s Give Away Horses

Meet the Artists of Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists

A traditional dress in white, blue, red, and black

Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty (Dakhóta/Nakoda), Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Dakhóta/Nakoda), and Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Dakhóta/Nakoda), Give Away Horses (dress and accessories), 2006, deer hide, glass beads, canvas, thread, leather, moose hide, German silver, porcupine quills, feathers, elk hide, brass bells, ribbon, silk ribbons, and brass thimbles, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 26/5818-5821. Photo by NMAI Photo Services. © J Growing Thunder

Artist’s Language

Wakíŋyaŋ Ičháğe Thiyóšpaye. Khúŋši kiŋ Joyce ečíyapi, Čhuŋkšítku kiŋ Juanita ečíyapi, ga thakóžapaku wičhíyaŋna kiŋ Jessa Rae ečíyapi, wíŋyaŋ yámni kiŋ hená yuphíyaȟča wakšúpi ga wípathapi. “Šuŋktháŋka Otúwičhaȟ’aŋ” kiŋ Wíŋyaŋ iwáčhi heyáke kiŋ dé yuštáŋpi, heyáke uŋšpá iyóhi kiŋ taŋyéȟ káğapi, uŋšpá iyóhi kiŋ ed táku waštéšte hená atháŋiŋ.

English

The women of the Growing Thunder family embody the intergenerational continuity of their artistic tradition. Joyce (grandmother), Juanita (daughter), and Jessa Rae (granddaughter) Growing Thunder are three generations of highly accomplished, well-respected, and prolific bead and quill artists. Give Away Horses represents three generations of Dakhóta/Nakoda aesthetic sensibilities perfected in hide, glass beads, and porcupine quills. This outfit is complete, each part intentionally created, revealing the living and vibrant gifts of legacy.

Audio

We’re three generations of traditional beadwork and quillwork artists. [Speaking Nakoda] Good day to all our relations. My name is Jessa Rae Growing Thunder. We come from the Fort Peck and Assiniboine Sioux tribes of Poplar Montana.
My name is Joyce Growing Thunder and my Indian name is [ ], it means Two Buffalo Woman.

My name is Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, and I am a Assiniboine Sioux from Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.

Jessa Rae: My grandma right here, she’s a legacy. She grew up in a beautiful time on the Reservation in Montana. She grew up with all her grandmas. And they were all bead-workers.

Joyce: My grandma Helen was a big inspiration to me. All of my grandmas. I used to have my beads laid out all the time, and they were raised around it . . . my kids.

Juanita: All of my brothers know how to bead and it’s just automatic because we saw her doing it all the time, so we had the master going all the time.

Jessa Rae: In this family you’re kind of born into it, because it’s just part of the everyday life.

Juanita: Everyday, right?

Joyce: Yeah.

Juanita: If she’s not beading, she gets grumpy. *laughter* you know.

Jessa Rae: We all do!

Juanita: She has to bead every day. She does. I mean it’s just part of her. That’s who she is.

Jessa Rae: I remember being six years old and I went to my friend’s house. And I understood I was Native and my friend wasn’t, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why my friend’s mom wasn’t beading. I remember going home and asking my mom, “Why do you guys do this every day?” And my mom explained, “You know these little things we do every day keep it alive. You know this is our responsibility.”

Juanita: Every design that we interpret, use in our pieces and stuff, we understand what that means. Where it came from. And why we’re putting it there. All of our pieces have stories. You don’t just make something because you saw that and that was pretty. You understand what that was about and why we do that. And not every design can go on anything. But a lot of our pieces we make tell personal stories, or stories from our family.

Jessa Rae: And even the dress that was chosen for the show. I mean that dress tells a story. That dress tells our history.

Juanita: The Giveaway Horse Dress. So she was asked, and so she was thinking about what design she could put on this dress and she kept going back to her grandparents. And she kept going back to her roots. And she said one of the best memories she had was her grandpa getting a horse ready that he knew he was gonna take to that celebration.

Jessa Rae: Ben Gray Hawk.

Juanita: Ben Gray Hawk.

Jessa Rae: So he would take this horse and he’d tie that war bonnet on that horse, and he’d go down to the celebration. And he would honor. You know, he would honor one of the grandchildren, one of the nephews, one of the nieces. And he would say something about them. You know, he would talk about them in a good way. And this beautiful horse with a beautiful war bonnet on it. All the men would be gathered on the outside of the arbor. When he was ready, he would release that horse and that horse would take off running. Whoever could catch that horse on foot, could keep that horse. And that was how he honored his family.

We’re taught to be selfless. You know, you always give things. Whatever you have, you give it. That’s how you show your love, that’s how you show your compassion for one another. That’s how you respect and honor one another.

Joyce: I’m glad my kids are gonna carry it on. They know how to do it all now. *laughter* Yeah.

Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty, Dakota/Nakoda, born 1950
Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, Dakota/Nakoda, born 1969
Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, Dakota/Nakoda, born 1989
Give Away Horses (dress and accessories), 2006