The winter wind in the north country blows cold and hard and can bite through to the bone. To survive, man and beast must wear warm coats. In this painting, the Crow Indian has a buffalo robe across his lap and a thick buckskin shirt to protect him from the cold and snow. His pony, with hind quarters facing into the wind’s teeth, wears his own thick, shaggy winter coat.
Animal skins were essential to the Indian’s dress, rituals and shelter. In addition to his shirt and robe, this Indian is carrying a society staff wrapped with otter fur. He has a small medicine pouch tied to his belt and a stuffed ermine skin attached to his shoulders. Thus, the pelts, or “coats” of many animals serve two masters.