Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Warriors of the North American plains come to Lotherton Hall

Picture caption: "A ceremonial costume on display as part of the Warriors of the plains exhibition".

Picture caption: "The portrait of contemporary Assiniboine dancer Kevin Haywahe by Iroquois photographer Jeff Thomas, which will greet visitors to the exhibition"
(Please credit - Returning the Gaze (detail). Assiniboine dancer Kevin Haywahe with face paint. (c) Jeff Thomas)

Visitors to Lotherton Hall can experience 200 years of native North American honour and ritual from next week.

Running from Friday 17 June until 25 September at the Leeds City Council-managed attraction in Aberford, a new touring exhibition from the British Museum ‘Warriors of the plains’ offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the warrior societies of the Native Americans.

This exhibition explores the understandings of honour, status and ritual amongst the indigenous peoples of the North American plains from 1800 to the present day to highlight the relevance of the warrior legacy for contemporary Native American identity.

The exhibition will display unique and fragile material from the British Museum collections for the first time such as weapons, ceremonial costume and ledger drawings, but also modern regalia of contemporary Native Americans, or ‘modern warriors’.

Highlights of the exhibition include feather headdresses, weapons, military insignia and a beaded military cap to illustrate the role of the warrior within the society, honour and prestige on the battlefield. Objects that represent diplomacy and peace treaties such as pipes complement items of bravery and honour such as clubs and pipe-tomahawks.

The ceremonial aspect of warrior societies, focusing on the link between ritual, tribal identity and war is explored through ceremonial rattles, dance gear, shirts, moccasins and a full modern Pow wow costume.

The exhibition makes full use of the British Museum’s large American collections and it also includes old photographs as well as a series of pictures of war dances among contemporary native Americans.

A blown up colour portrait of contemporary Assiniboine dancer Kevin Haywahe by Iroquois photographer Jeff Thomas will greet the visitors alongside three rare lithographs by painter George Catlin (ca. 1830s) that illustrate historical aspects of Plains warriors’ life and their appearances.

Leeds City Council curator of world cultures Antonia Lovelace said:
“We are really looking forward to this feast of Native American history and culture opening at Lotherton Hall. This new exhibition will run alongside our already very popular ‘Native Americans of the Plains’ exhibition which has been delighting visitors with a fascinating look into the life and culture of the first Americans. A visit to Lotherton is a must for any fans of early American history.”

Please call 0113 281 3259 or go to for more information.

Notes to Editors
• Warriors of the Plains is supported through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation.
• The tour is organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK scheme. Partnership UK is the strategic framework for the British Museum’s programme of engagement with audiences throughout the country.
• Following the tour launch at Lotherton Hall, the exhibition can be seen at: Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; Manchester Museum
• The British Museum will be undertaking a number of projects with Leeds Museum & Galleries in the coming years including the touring exhibition ‘Pharaoh: King of Egypt’ at Leeds City Museum in February 2012.
• The British Museum’s Native North American and Canadian First Nations Collections number about 24,000 objects, collected from the founding of the British Museum, in 1753 onwards. The Plains Indian collections, from Canada and the US number are modest in scope, there are important objects and items of regalia of great standing, historically and from a Native point of view. The North American gallery opened in 1999 at the British Museum, and is seen by perhaps half a million people a year.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713