Logo of The Gift exhibition. Click on it for information about its design.

The Gift is based on a traditional Lakotan narrative about when White Buffalo Woman, an emissary from the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation), 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 a narrative, “The White Buffalo Calf Pipe (Ptehin’cala Canonpa),” about the gift, with Frances Densmore who published it in 1918. It is a wondrous account of that event. 

Opened May 2021 at

Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, Chamberlain, SD

2022 at South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, SD

2022 at Dahl Arts Center, Rapid City, SD

2023 at The Brinton Museum, Big Horn, WY

2023 at The Heritage Center, Pine Ridge, SD

The narrative is organized into seven passages, each of which is interpreted and illustrated by a Lakotan artist. These seven artists are the Narrative Artists for the exhibit. When Frances Densmore recorded the narrative, she also recorded Charging Thunder singing, “Song of the White Buffalo Maiden.” He, Charging Thunder, is the Narrative Musician, and his song can be heard in the exhibit and in the online version of the exhibit. There also is a Narrative Poet whose poem is in the exhibit and its online version. The creative works of these nine Lakotans constitute the Narrative section of the exhibit.

The second section of the exhibit explores the seven ceremonies ⎯ "gifts" ⎯ that Black Elk says were foretold by White Buffalo Woman. For each gift, a Lakotan musician or musical group composed a song, a Lakotan poet wrote a poem, and two Lakotan visual artists each created an artwork. These creative works constitute the Gifts section of the exhibit.

The gifts were and are:

     Inikagha ⎯ Revitalizing the Ghost

     Hanblecheya ⎯ Crying for a Vision

     Wanaghi Yuhapi ⎯ Keeping a Spirit

     Wiwanyang Wachipi ⎯ Sun Dancing

     Hunka Lowanpi ⎯ Making Relatives

     Ishnati Awichalowan ⎯ Preparing for Womanhood

     Tapa Wankayeyapi ⎯ Throwing the Ball

A curriculum team will soon be creating classroom activities related to the exhibit.


Exhibit partners

     Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

     The Brinton Museum

     Dahl Arts Center

     The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School

     South Dakota Art Museum

Exhibit curriculum support

     South Dakota Art Museum

     South Dakota Community Foundation

Additional support

     Makoché Studios

     National Endowment for the Arts

     NoVo Foundation

     South Dakota Arts Council

Exhibit staff

     Researcher, Terri Fried

     Curator, Craig Howe

     Editor, Charles Woodard

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.

Exhibit Insiders


     Father Peter J. Powell

     Father Peter J. Powell Trust

     Mark Gabel

     Patty & Bert Whitley

     Steve Wyant

Exhibit Backers

     A. Joseph Guse

     Alex Dolwick

     Alisa and Gary Joaquin     

     Amy Harris

     Andrew Reinartz

     Anne Siri Renaa

     Chris and Gabrielle Seeley

     Chris Plowe and Myaing Nyunt

     David Lautenberger

     Eric Zimmer

     Jeff Osler

     Kayla Schubert and Beatrice Aubid

     Richard Johnson

Exhibit Contributors


     Dorie Ellzey Blesoff

     Laura Flores

     Mike and Karen Goetzinger

     Stacey Sharer