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Painted buffalo robe

Two Guns (Sarcee)c. 1908

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, Canada

Born around 1833, Chief Bull Head belonged to the Tsuu T’ina tribe, formerly called the Sarcee. After mid-century, when inter-tribal warfare reached high intensity, Bull Head became the leading warrior of his tribe. His war deeds are recorded on the painted buffalo hide displayed behind you. After his brother died in battle in 1865, Bull Head succeeded him as chief of the tribe and led the Tsuu T’ina until his death in 1911. In 1877 Bull Head signed Treaty No. 7 with the Dominion of Canada on behalf of his people, who numbered 255. Several years later, the Tsuu T’ina settled on a reserve twelve kilometers from the center of present day Calgary. Despite devastating social and health problems, and great pressure to sell parts of their land, Bull Head ably led the Tsuu T’ina into the twentieth century united as a people and with their reserve intact. In 1908 the artist, Edmund Morris, brought a buffalo hide formerly used as carriage robe fro Toronto to the Sarcee Reserve. He commissioned the reserve Interpreter and Farm Instructor, George Hodgson, to have Bull Head’s war history painted on it. Bull Head described his deeds in Sarcee to Two Guns who executed the painting. Young Charlie Crow Chief, among the first graduates of the reserve school, probably translated Bull Head’s words into English. Hodgson’s daughters transcribed the text, quoted in part below. Two Guns was born around 1861, too young to have been a warrior. Yet his painting vividly evokes the high drama of Plains Indian warfare. He recorded six of Bull Head’s exploits, along with a tally of the horses, weapons and scalps taken from the enemy. Unlike more traditional war exploit painting thick lines were drawn to distinguish the events, and English names and numbers were inscribed as a key to the written explanations. He painted the enemy Crees in black and blue, with the Tsuu T’ina in red and green.

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  • Title: Painted buffalo robe
  • Creator: Two Guns (Sarcee)
  • Date: c. 1908
  • Physical Dimensions: w78.8 cm
  • Provenance: Edmund Morris Collection
  • Type: Robe
  • Rights: Royal Ontario Museum
  • Medium: skin; buffalo; paint; thread; sinew; cloth
  • Length: 82
  • Culture: Sarcee
  • Collector information: Collected by Edmund Morris. Edmund Morris lived from 1871 to 1913, a period of rapid transition in which the Plains Indian tribes shifted from nomadic dependence on the buffalo to settlement on parcels of land called “reserves.” From 1907 to 1911, Edmund journeyed to reserves in the newly formed prairie provinces to create an intimate and thoughtful record of Indian life through pastel sketches, photography, the written word, and a collection of artifacts. As the youngest son of Alexander Morris, the Lieutenant Governor who negotiated most of the Plains Indian treaties, Edmund had a deep commitment to his task. His work provides remarkable insight into the lives of the Plains people and their communities. In 1913 he donated his extraordinary collection of artifacts and his diary to the Royal Ontario Museum, the same year the Province of Ontario transferred to the musuem its collection of 58 Plains portraits by Morris.
  • Accession Number: 913.14.269

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