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The Angry Buffalo / Antowine Warrior

Essay/Description

This dramatic scene illustrates the moment a bison bull, wounded and stuck with arrows, has dropped its head, charged, and tossed the aggressor—in this case, the bow hunter—into the air. Bison were known to do this, and in some cases could throw their adversaries up to twenty feet high.

The Angry Buffalo by Antowine Warrior (Sac and Fox) refers to a time in America’s past when buffalo hunting provided a staple food source for Indigenous nations. In precolonial times, American bison could be found throughout the North American continent, from Canada to Mexico and throughout most of the present-day United States. The bison skull in the lower right corner, bleached by the sun, symbolizes the systematic eradication of the bison population by the U.S. federal government from the mid- to late 1800s, during the western colonial expansion that followed the Civil War.

This midcentury work was produced when there was widespread nostalgia for precolonial pastimes such as bison hunting, and the artist likely chose this subject after hearing myriad stories about life before colonization that circulated around Oklahoma in the 1960s. In the 1950s and 1960s, some Indigenous artists used irony and dark humor to reject or upend racial stereotypes in Western art that were perpetuated by artists like Frederic Remington and Charles Marion Russell. Here, Warrior reminds his audience that historical representations can be reinterpreted through humor, with The Angry Buffalo serving as an example of comedic liberation. Warrior received his Bachelor of Arts from Bacone College (Muskogee, Oklahoma).

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

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Title(s): 
The Angry Buffalo
Creator(s): 
Antowine Warrior (Artist)
Culture: 
Native American; Sac and Fox
Date: 
1962
Materials/Techniques: 
oil on canvas
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
R.E. and Mary Maxwell, Jr., Fort Worth and Houston, Texas
Accession No: 
01.2481
Previous Number(s): 
0137.2481; TL1994.71.F; 12113
Department: 
Signed by hand in paint, "Antowine Warrior — 62 —" in lower right on recto; Inscribed in type, “[white Japanese characters in red circle] No. 1- [1- is written in red ink] 92 [92 is written in black pen] [Japanese characters]” on sticker in upper right on verso.
Not On View

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