Crow Indian With Peace Pipe
James Bama met Henry Bright Wings during a medicine ceremony performed in the tepee of a Crow medicine man in Wyola, Montana. He was then 68. Bama liked his classic face, which he thought would have been appropriate on a buffalo nickel. When Bright Wings visited Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming several years later, Bama dressed him in historical costume including a pre-1900 headdress and a very old buffalo robe from the Old Trail Town Museum in Cody.
In earlier times the right to wear a headdress had to be earned, usually in battle. Today even women and children sometimes wear a showy nontraditional war bonnet for pow-wow dance parades and celebrations. Many men feel that their age is entitlement enough, but others will not wear a headdress because they do not consider it their provenance. Bama met a Pine Ridge Reservation Indian who would not pose in a headdress even though he was 45 years old and certainly looked venerable enough.
During the Indian Wars of the post-Civil War years, Bright Wings’ people, the Crows, frequently allied themselves with the military against such traditional enemies as the Sioux and the Cheyenne. Crow scouts rode to their deaths with Custer.