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Medicine Man with Patient / Allen Bushyhead


Allan Bushyhead’s Medicine Man with Patient is in the Flatstyle, recognizable by its flattened perspective and lack of shading. The tempera painting portrays an interior view of a home, with a backdrop composed of a stretched and decorated panel separated into five sections. A Civil War cavalry saber in a leather sheath hangs on the right; below, a brightly colored parfleche satchel is propped on the floor. On the left hangs a shield of painted rawhide adorned with red trade-cloth wool and five eagle feathers. The patient lies comfortably on the floor, receiving healing treatment from the medicine man.

According to Oscar Jacobson, an art professor at the University of Oklahoma, Bushyhead (Cheyenne, Arapaho) was one of the few Indigenous artists whose works were widely exhibited in the late 1930s, even appearing in shows in Paris.1 When Bushyhead painted this artwork in the 1940s, there was a federal prohibition on non-Christian Indigenous religious practices. This ban was enforced by the U.S. government until the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was enacted in 1978.

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

1 Jacobson and D’Ucel, American Indian Painters, 1:15.

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Medicine Man with Patient
Allen Bushyhead (Artist)
Native American; Arapaho, Cheyenne
1945 - 1949
tempera on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.260-0.270mm Cream colored paper. Even distribution of fibers in transmitted light. Cold-pressed, textured.
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0227.64; 20578
Not On View

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