Okla. The fully restored pages of a rare collection of Kiowa
calendar art are on view in a new exhibition that opened last week
at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman. One
Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record features hand-drawn
illustrations by renowned Kiowa artist and calendar-keeper Silver
Horn representing 100 years of Kiowa tribal history. The exhibit
will be on view through Aug. 23.
traditional Kiowa calendar uses pictorial images to represent events
in the tribes history. Each year is represented by two images
one for the summer and one for the winter. The events depicted
are agreed upon by tribal elders and drawn and maintained by designated
tribal calendar-keepers. The calendar records were originally kept
on hides or cloth, but eventually were copied into ledgers.
Horn was born in 1860 (The Summer That Bird Appearing was
Killed, according to his calendar). Both his father and older
brother also were calendar-keepers for the tribe. He was a prolific
artist, and created hundreds of drawings representing Kiowa history
and tradition before his death in 1940.
one other full Silver Horn calendar is known to exist today. It
was created by Silver Horn in 1904 specifically for the archives
of the Smithsonian Institution and covers the period from 1828 through
1904. The SNOMNH Silver Horn calendar also begins in 1828, four
years earlier than Kiowa calendars by other artists, and continues
through the winter of 1928-29. It includes more than 200 drawings
on 80 pages.
Greene, a Smithsonian scholar and expert on Silver Horns work,
prepared explications of each image for the exhibition. Greene is
also the author of a new book about the calendar. One Hundred Summers:
A Kiowa Calendar Record, published this spring by the University
of Nebraska Press.
in this calendar are probably the last drawings that Silver Horn
made, said Greene. Before this book was found, I thought
he had quit producing in the 19-teens because he was going blind.
But obviously he was very committed to continuing this work. There
are a few other calendars that continue into the early 1900s, but
this one, with entries well into the 20th century, offers a unique
perspective on that period of history.
calendar on view in this exhibition was donated to the Sam Noble
Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in 2001 from the estate of Nelia
Mae Roberts, who ran an Indian trading post in Anadarko. The museum
subsequently received a Save Americas Treasures Grant that
provided for the conservation and restoration of the calendars
fragile pages by a professional paper conservator. The process took
over a year, but the restored pages are now available to be viewed
for the first time by museum visitors.
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is located on the University
of Oklahoma Norman campus. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through
Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. A family of four can visit for
under $20. Additional information is available by calling (405)
325-4712, or online at www.snomnh.ou.edu