The Gift is based on a traditional Lakota narrative about when an emissary from the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation), White Buffalo Woman, gave a sacred pipe to the Itazipco Oyate, one of seven oyates of the Lakota division of the Oceti Sakowin Confederacy. In the Standing Rock Reservation in 1911, Lone Man shared the narrative, “The White Buffalo Calf Pipe (Ptehin’cala Canonpa),” with Frances Densmore who published it in 1918. It is a wondrous account. 

The narrative has been organized into seven passages, each of which is being interpreted and illustrated by a Lakota artist. In narrative sequence, the artists are Angela Babby, Dwayne Wilcox, Renelle White Buffalo, Roger Broer, Athena LaTocha, Keith BraveHeart, and Andrea Lekberg.

When Frances Densmore recorded the narrative, she also recorded Charging Thunder singing, “Song of the White Buffalo Maiden.” Efforts are underway to obtain the rights to incorporate this song into this narrative section of the exhibit. Also, Lakota author and poet, Taté Walker, is composing a poem for this section.

A second section of the exhibit explores the seven ceremonies—“gifts”—that Black Elk says were foretold by the White Buffalo Woman. For each gift, a Lakota musician is composing a song, a Lakota poet is writing a poem, and two Lakota artists are creating artworks. The artists are JhonDuane Goes In Center, Del Iron Cloud, Melanie Ratzlaff, Renelle White Buffalo, Donald Montileaux, Athena LaTocha, Lorri Ann Two Bulls, Ann-erika White Bird, Sandy Swallow, Alfreda Beartrack Algeo, Micheal Two Bulls, Iris Sully, Richard Red Owl, and Charles Her Many Horses.

The gifts were and are:

  1. Hanbleceya — Vision Quest

  2. Hunkapi — Making Relatives

  3. Inipi — Purification

  4. Isnati Awicalowan — Preparing for Womanhood

  5. Tapa Wankayeyapi — Throwing the Ball

  6. Wanagi Yuhapi — Keeping a Ghost

  7. Wiwanyang Wacipi — Sun Dance

These 14 artists, along with 7 poets and 7 musicians who are being invited to participate, are creating their artworks within the framework of a “gift”, of something given and received; of something that gives and is received in the past, present and future. They are being asked: How do you see the ceremony as a gift? How might you share it? How has it been shared with you? Their challenge is to complete their work with deep thought and high aesthetics.

Exhibit partners are

  1. Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

  2. South Dakota Art Museum

  3. The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School

  4. The Brinton Museum

Exhibit curriculum supported by

  1. South Dakota Community Foundation

Additional support

  1. National Endowment for the Arts

  2. NoVo Foundation

  3. South Dakota Arts Council

Exhibit staff are

  1. Researcher, Terri Fried

  2. Curator, Craig Howe, PhD

The Gift Exhibit



May 2021

Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, Chamberlain, SD (2021)

South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, SD

The Heritage Center, Pine Ridge, SD

The Brinton Museum, Big Horn, WY (2023)

Wopila Tanka/Thank You

This exhibit is made possible in large part by encouragement and financial support from good people and organizations nearby and far away. If you would like to join in supporting The Gift exhibit, we will be grateful. Click here for more information about supporting this exhibit. All donations will be recognized and are tax deductible.

News and Updates


Alisa & Gary Joaquin

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Chris Plowe and Myaing Nyunt

David Lautenberger

Jeff Osler

Kayla Schubert and Beatrice Aubid



Father Peter J. Powell

Father Peter J. Powell Trust

Mark Gabel

Patty & Bert Whitley