There are myriad sources which are used to exhibit one’s artistic talents and abilities.

While one artist might paint on canvas, another utilizes a piece of marble to create a sculpture.

A local group of artists recently displayed their work in a unique way, but it is a form of art that is not new to their culture. Through a Dakota Wicohan art program, they were able to create regalia for horses. 

The horse art program was developed as a way to enhance the Dakota Wicohan Sunktanka horse program.

According to Eileen O’Keefe and Dory Stands of Dakota Wicohan, the horse is an important part of the Dakota culture, and regalia like that which was created by the local artists would have been done for any number of reasons, such as for a special ceremony, as a way to honor a loved on or when one was called to war.

James Star Comes Out, an Oglala Lakota, led the art program, which culminated with the Dress the Horses show. The exhibit was held Aug. 24 in the show ring of the Redwood County fairgrounds, and each of the artists and the art they created was on display that day.

Dakota Wicohan was able to offer the arts program, because it was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota Arts Board thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Dakota Wicohan utilizes horses from Gabrielle Strong, said O’Keefe, adding the regalia program was done as a way to thank Strong and recognize the horses, which James Star Comes Out called their four-legged relatives.

Through the Sunktanka program, youth who are involved not only have a chance to ride horses, they also take on additional responsibility in caring for the horses.

According to Star Comes Out, the artists worked on their pieces for about nine months.

“As an artist myself, I feel it’s an obligation for me to share that with my people,” he said, adding everyone has a talent and for the artist it is an honor to be able to share it.

Star Comes Out said he is working to revitalize this form of art, because it is an important part of the culture. He added this art program is part of a bigger picture for the culture, because it connects them with other elements and he said whether it is the language, the customs or the traditions all of them come together to define who they are as a Native Americans.

According to O’Keefe and Stands, the horse regalia art program is also part of the bigger picture effort Dakota Wicohan is making to bring back many of those customs, including the arts.

There were 11 artists who took part in the horse regalia program this year, and the hope is to have the pieces that were created on display some time in the future.

Dakota Wicohan is currently working with about 50 youth from the area, and anyone, regardless of their cultural background, is invited to come and be part of what is happening.

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