Water Bird Tipi at the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum in Buffalo,
Wyoming. Photo courtesy A Cheyenne Voice
LAME DEER, Mont. Last year curators at the Jim
Gatchell Memorial Museum, Buffalo, Wyo. were excited to erect
an Indian tipi, designed and inspired by Bilford Curley Sr., Northern
Cheyenne elder and society man, and painted by Jim Starkey (Defender
Eagle), Cheyenne River Sioux. The unique and colorful tipi will
be displayed on the museum grounds throughout the summer season,
a highlight for museum guests, said Museum Director John Gavin.
By 2014, the museums 15-year-old, Plains Northern Cheyenne
Tipi was in dire need of replacement. The museum then purchased
a new Northern Cheyenne tipi from a Billings, Mont.
Tent and Awning Supply Source and commissioned two American Indian
artists to create traditional designs on the new tipi, appealing
first to Belford Curley Sr., a Northern Cheyenne, and longtime friend
of the museum. Ever modest, Curley, recommended James Starkey, a
Lakota who lives among the Cheyenne in Lame Deer, Mont., widely
known for his artistic representations of Native history and culture.
The museum learned that Bilford Curley thought long and
hard about the symbolism of the paint and shared his ideas with
James Starkey, whose Lakota name is Defender Eagle, said John
Garvin, Museum Executive Director.
The two artists decided that Starkey, with guidance from Curley,
would, incorporate a Cheyenne/Lakota vision, in fantastic acrylic
dream, aided by Chief Dull Knife College, where the painting was
completed on campus, requiring many winter months of work.
We need to do these things, leaving something behind for
our children, Curley states. We must also share our
vision and culture with others. The people at the Gatchell Memorial
Museum have been very good friends, he said, helping
to preserve our history in a way that honors the Cheyenne and Lakota