Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)View Artist Biography
Plate 187 Tearing Lodge - Piegan
Portfolio, 22 x 18 inches
Pinokiminush or Tearing Lodge was photographed by Edward S. Curtis in 1910 making him about 75 years old at the time of the picture. Edward S. Curtis describes Tearing Lodge as having a particularly great memory, rare for a Piegan of his age. This memory helped Curtis gain a lot of useful information for his project The North American Indian.
Tearing Lodge was born in Northern Montana in about 1835. He is pictured wearing a buffalo skin hat which was a part of his war costume that he put on for Curtis. The cap was made and worn because of a spirits command that he received during a vision. Piegan men found fasting a very important part of their devotional acts. If one could purify his mind and body then he had the chance of being visited by spirits who may impart wisdom or powers.
Fasting for the Piegan involved a lot of hard work beginning with the building of a sweat lodge and gaining the assistance of medicine men. He would have elder medicine men use the lodge, sing his medicine songs, and after presenting the men with a pipe and gifts the old man would paint him and ready him for his spiritual journey. The journey would then involve setting out for the high mountains.
Tearing lodge claimed that he had fasted 7 times generally for about 10 days. After making it into the mountains one might light a pipe for the spirits to smoke and pray. When it is time to lie down, one would have to remain in the same position all night without moving. Hopefully, throughout the process one would have a vision that would guide them in life or battle.
This photograph by Edward S. Curtis was printed on Dutch Van Gelder and is available for sale in our Aspen Art Gallery.