Regalia – Buffalo Headdress

Buffalo headdress NCIPA powwow 2016

Regalia is the term most used to describe the clothing and accessories worn by Indians during their ceremonies, competitive dances, and other events. It can be made of exclusively natural materials such as were used by their forefathers including feathers taken from birds caught by the individuals, leather from animals they killed themselves, beads obtained from traders or others, or any kind of item gathered and used by the individuals. This is often referred to as traditional regalia.

Other regalia may be made from newer less traditionally sourced materials such as modern manufactured beads and buttons or any type of adornment that can add to the look of updated regalia worn by individuals.

There is no right or wrong type of regalia worn and used today. In the past, new items such as small mirrors or new pieces of cloth obtained through barter or trade with other tribes or individuals before the trading of newer items began, were soon incorporated into regalia and displayed proudly. Todays use of new fabrics for streamers and accents worn in the regalia of Fancy Dancers today is not only considered acceptable but necessary for the look of the outfits worn by these dancers today.

Above is a beautiful example of a Buffalo headdress seen from the back so you can appreciate the adornments and beadwork of a spectacular example of craftsmanship and traditional styling. This was seen at the 2016 NCIPA powwow in Ft Collins, Colorado.

This image is a photograph processed in various types of software to bring out the beauty of the various items used in its creation. We’ll be bringing you further examples of incredible regalia in future posts.


Notch Watches A Bush

If you’ve ever spent any time with a moose you may have noticed that they have the average I.Q. of an avocado. That’s not to say that they can’t carry on a conversation or do simple sums it means that as far as being an ungulates’ version of a genius is concerned they rank right up there with a two slice toaster.

Notch here is a prime example of moose intellect. His name was given to him by Mrs. Mom after a pack of coyotes tried to drag the young, not yet named Notch, into the bushes to have lunch with them. Notch was reluctant so they tried to convince him by leading him off by his right ear. By the time Mom got into it and reduced the pack by two and bent up the other three, Notch had the shredded ear that would be a constant reminder never to trust a bush again.

Now even though he stands nearly 7′ tall at the shoulder and weighs about the same as a Mazda Miata he still can not let a bush get by without giving it a thorough going over. Moose are slow to give up a tested theory, which in Notch’s case means “all bushes bad until proven otherwise” which is his first and guiding precept.

Why didn’t he learn through the years that bushes in general are harmless enough if unprovoked and go about his life? The only answer we can come up with and we must state at this point this is an untested theory, is the fact that those enormous, but giant antlers grow at an alarming rate and they possibly grow inward as well as outward. We know this seems unlikely but to date we have not seen hard evidence to contradict this possibility. This of course would cause a deflection of the brain pan and a pressing on the frontal lobe of his brain, compressing it and reducing it if not mashing it flat, which would interfere with some cognizant behavior. Which would cause the average observer to conclude that Notch was as dumb as a box of rocks.

Recently on a moose observation workshop and image making field trip we found Notch and to our surprise found him at hard at work staring at this bush. We came and went from this bush laden area several times during the day and found Notch still steadily at work assessing this bush. We saw that he had his work cut out for him as the entire meadow of many, many acres was entirely covered by bushes and this was the first one he had approached.

We are bringing you this news in case you are a frustrated moose watcher or photographer. One who, try as you might just can’t find a moose, developly challenged or not, to observe. Head on up to Long Draw on the way to Cameron pass and you should be able to spot Notch still at his task. I wouldn’t break any speed limits getting here. There’s lots of bushes left.

Blue Side of Nowhere Pt. 2

On a recent trip to Pawnee National Grasslands looking for early migrating raptors and antelope herds moving north through the short-cropped grass, we were on the lookout for anything moving. The land was empty to the horizon with nothing stirring but tufts of last years golden grass waving in the fitful wind.

Pawnee National grasslands is located 40 miles west of nowhere and 61 miles east of too far. This makes it hard to find unless you really want to get there. We did so we persevered. Not really lost but unsure of where we were we would drive into little towns like Grover, population less than you’d expect and ask “Where are we?”. One reticent local we spoke to answered with gestures more than words, saying we were here pointing downwards, and we should go that way indicated with outstretched arm, and then with a flick of his thumb indicated we should then go that way, which may have been to the right. It was clear as mud but helped us on our way.

There are two large monolithic limestone buttes that rise several hundred feet into the air, sort of like a miniature Ayers Rock, or Uluru as the natives musically call it but doubled, that tell you have reached the virtual center of the Pawnee National grasslands. The full view of these is best obtained by climbing up a steep rutted dirt road that you thought when you turned onto it from another steep rutted dirt road, might take you to the Buttes as they’re called. And the joy and relief you feel that you were right adds to the enjoyment of seeing them, standing there in all their glory, just where the rumors had it they’d be.

Since we were high up on a neighboring ridge with the buttes and half the world at our feet we felt like it was a good place to stop and consider. Much time was spent watching the buttes, waiting to see it they’d move, they didn’t, but the wind through the grass did. The occasional bird flying overhead did, the sun did, but not us. We stayed as still as the buttes and had lunch. Beauty doesn’t negate hungry. All your senses must be fed.

It wasn’t long before the sun had made its relentless journey to the West and threatened to dive behind the blue wall of mountains ending another day. The sky turned an even deeper shade of blue and the realization that we were on a ridge in the middle of nowhere and had many miles to go before we saw civilization again made the decision to leave for us. We began the bumpy jolting journey down towards blacktop and waiting modern life.

The lights jumped crazily over the two ruts that were the road and darkness raced towards us at the speed of light. The hundreds and thousands of miles it felt like we had traveled, although the speedometer said much less, seemed even longer in the encroaching darkness and it was a small relief to suddenly top out and find smooth blacktop under our wheels again. We were on a low ridge forming one side of a wide flat valley that the magic began to happen.

Fog, or mist, no it was fog, much much thicker than mist, substantial and definite as it began to form what looked like, from a distance, impenetrable clouds of pale blue light rising out of the valley floor. At first it was just wispy and directionless. Then as if deciding it was its time to become alive it rapidly formed into opaque fingers that quickly stretched across the valley seemingly barring all access to the outside world. Strangely beautiful it wasn’t long before the entire valley was engulfed in it’s eerie luminescence. It seemed slightly intimidating in its ghostly beauty but if we wanted to get home and at that moment home seemed like a welcome place to be, we entered the valley and trusted to the fates that our journey would be a safe one. Entering the blue side of nowhere had its risks but what doesn’t these days.

The odyssey to Pawnee Buttes National grasslands was a unique experience. Meeting strangers who became helpful, finding lost roads and quirky little side trips, locating the buttes and watching them turn from pure white sandstone to the golden colors of end of day on its smooth-sided walls made every moment one that will be permanently etched into our memory. But what made this a truly meaningful and unforgettable experience was the pale blue fog of the high plains grasslands. What we now call the Blue Side of Nowhere.

Cloud Cutting


Many of you long time readers are aware of *The Institute’s weather modification program. We developed this ability to modify and even create certain kinds of weather early on in The Institute’s development. This was done for many reasons, all of them altruistic, but mainly for money. The Institute is expensive to run and maintain and we seek funds wherever we might find them.

We have different projects in the works constantly to fund our operation, from our innovative metal can retrieval program from the roadsides of our Nation’s highways to assisting NASA with their Space Program by supporting probes to Uranus and beyond. We have an outreach program where we have housebound or incarcerated individuals address envelopes for various corporations to help keep the Post Office’s Junk Mail program alive. That keeps untold dozens of postal workers busy and gainfully employed. There is no project too small if it assists us in maintaining the integrity and longevity of The Institute and brings in a buck or two.

Our supremacy had been untouchable in the weather modification arena and we had been so far out front that you had to jump up in the air real high to even see our dust. Then the Aussie’s got in the game. Man, they are tough. Their program to limit rain and cause desertification of huge areas, if not all of their country, has been unassailable. Our program to “drought up” California has been good but we can’t even touch what the Australians are capable of. Which is difficult for us to admit. Right now they’re the ones we watch.

Because of their (we’re talking about those miserably overachieving Aussies here) ability to make inroads into the weather modification business in general, we have had to look for other areas of the business to augment our extensive programs. We believe we’ve hit on something the rest of the WeatherMod group hasn’t touched yet and that is the untouched field of Boutique Weather. This is a small business at this time but we think the potential is absolutely enormous.

There are many very wealthy States that have incredible tourism businesses. States like Colorado, Utah, Arizona ( a biggie ) Montana, parts of New Mexico and when they pay their bills (which is why we have them in a “droughtie” right now) Northern California that are looking for that edge to keep those tourists coming in and to keep them there longer. That’s where we come in. We are already supplying many of those states and other small touristy kind of countries with custom-designed sunrises and sunsets. With our new custom “Cloud Cutting” ability we can custom tailor those sunrises and sunsets by ‘cutting’ the edges and shapes of the clouds so that they can feature or highlight a tourist drawing element, by allowing the light to be directed on them for maximum viewing pleasure. Think, Devil’s Tower, or parts of the Grand Canyon, Isis for instance, where before you had a pleasant sunset that sort of showed off the various elements of the scene, but now with our Patented Applied For “Cloud Cutting” technology, those individual elements can be seen by those money-toting tourists much more clearly and colorfully than ever before. Talk about making it rain greenbacks, we can hardly keep up with the demand for these new custom tailored clouds. Now coupled with our ability to create clouds of any size, shape or profile we feel we have a real winner here. Need God beams, we can do that. Need tiny or large holes or openings in your cloud for extra special effects? We can do that. Right now the sky’s the limit, so to speak.

The image featured above is over the Eastern edge of The Institute’s testing grounds where we work on many of our new weather projects. This is the program at work using the new “Sun nibbling” feature where we are sculpting the edge of the cloud to perhaps highlight a small secluded cove on the Eastern Seaboard, or perhaps one of the little canyons that feed into the Grand Canyon, or a meadow up in Yellowstone where elk graze in the early morning or evening. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

We have high hopes for this new element in our Weather modification program and already interest is running high for this unique new addition and we see big things on the horizon. Watch the sky above and stay tuned for further innovations.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind.


You Might Have Missed’em Already


We do not usually issue dire warnings here at *The Institute but we felt that this new discovery warranted immediate publication. Many of you know from friends and family or seeing old videos on the Travel Channel that we  have a world-famous collection of Sand Dunes here in America. In Colorado in fact, down near Alamosa in the southern part of the state.

You can find them right next to the road and stop and look at them for absolutely no cost for as long as you want. This a right given us by Mother Nature and signed off on by the Colorado House of Representatives, the State Senate and by our Governor as well.

However the problem and hence the unexpected issuance of the dire warning has to do with a problem that our team of Sand and Gravel and Indigenous Rock researchers have come across. We have researchers that travel the U.S. picking up rocks of all types, big, little, round, flat, those shaped like Uncle Skid’s nose, nicely colored ones, ugly ones, a few that are so large we can’t cross bridges with them on our flatbed trailer we haul along behind one of our research vessels. Consequently we have to dump them alongside the road at the first sign of a bridge. This research is critical to determining just how many stones, rocks and other hard things of a sedimental-like nature we have laying around on our American soil.

As the team proceeded with their gathering of rocks along the edge of the Great Sand Dunes they made a startling discovery. Each morning when they returned to begin picking up rocks they noticed that the dunes had moved father to the right. That’s right the whole darn dune. To test their theory they left a rock right up next to the edge of the tallest dune at the end of the day and sure enough the dune had moved to the right significantly. “Holey Pantalones” they cried. ” The Dunes they are moving. Wowser!” ( I know, we don’t always get those cool quotes you hear those fake scientists in the movies make.) They were stunned. If this is accurate and who says it isn’t unless you came out here and did the work yourself, hauled your own rocks and had to drink warm Tang and everything to keep from collapsing in the noon day sun, then we might pay attention to what you think.

These are real live scientists from The Institute here and if they say the dunes are moving we think you should listen up and pay attention. What for, you might ask. How does this directly affect me? Well, consider this. You’re sitting home in your Barcalounger drinking watered down EverClear and the love of your life comes in and says” Cranston, You’re a fat slob. And you’re drunk too. We’re taking the kids to the Great Sand Dunes on a vacation. Go gas the car.” There is absolutely nothing to be said to that so you go gas the car. Two thousand miles later because you probably live in Pennsylvania or one of those funny little shaped states up near Maine somewhere that would fit in one of our garages out here, and you’ve got all seven of the kids with you and they already pulled all the stuffing out of the backseat to make a campfire on the console because they want to make s’mores and you won’t stop. You’re looking for the turn off to the Great Sand dunes and when you finally see the road you take it and what do you see at the end where all those dunes are supposed to be, nothing. The dunes have moved dude. They are like way the hell and gone down to the right. That’s correct, two thousand miles, screaming kids, your wife is telling you she is going to get a tattoo as soon as she gets home, and no Sand Dunes. Whatcha gonna do now.

If you had listened to us and paid attention when we said the dunes are moving. You would have gotten here, seen the dunes, sent the wife and kids off on a hike into the bear infested woods along the dunes where the compasses don’t work because of the high metal deposits concentrated under the sand, and it would be quiet again. Blessedly quiet. You could head back home through Vegas, yeah we know that’s a little out of your way, but so what. Get a room, play the quarter slots for a while, then point it back East listening to Springsteen and other people your kids hate. So, you going to listen to us, or what. We don’t do all this hard work for nothing. We do it for the good of the nation and the people that live in it. Don’t be a doofuss, pay attention when we tell you stuff. You never know when it will help you out.

Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind.

How About Some Art


As a fallen away sculptor, which means for a long time I was one and now I isn’t but I still think like one, I can speak to art. What it means, how it’s done, where it comes from. For years  I worked and taught in bronze, stone, wood and I still see in three dimensions. My photography is based on how I used to conceptualize when I was creating a new piece of sculpture. I could not begin a new work unless I could see it from all sides, including the top and bottom. When it was firmly fixed in my mind then I could begin.

My photography is much like that. I want to be able to think I can see what the back of the sculpture in the image looks like. I want the flowers in the background to give it the depth it needs. Basically what I’m really waiting for is that new Nikon holograph camera, the D99000x HoloStill VR 1.2 mm Infi-Zoom with revolutionary non-removable lens that lets you move around inside the image after you take it. I have repeatedly queried Nikon on its release but they’re being really close-mouthed about it.

The sculpture in the image above is from a collection called Chapungu from Zimbabwe and is made by the incredible Shona sculptors there. The gorgeous stone used is from the serpentine family of stone and dug from the Great Dyke that runs across Zimbabwe and is called Springstone. This particular form of sculpture seems to bring out more emotion and story content that I have ever seen in other stone. I don’t care if it is Carrara marble from Italy or alabaster from the mines of Colorado. When you see the black forms from this grey stone appear you are seeing life caught in stone.

Art is in the eye of the beholder and I think that is what every beholder sees when they first view these sculptures. I know I did and I’m an art guy. You can be one too, whether you are or not,  just get out and look.





2016 NCIPA Northern Colorado Intertribal Powwow Association

This post has been moved to All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on check out See you there!

2016 NCIPA Northern Colorado Intertribal Powwow


On April 16th and 17th this year the 24th annual Northern Colorado Intertribal Powwow was held in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The weather was cold and rainy but inside the Northside Aztlan Community Center it was as warm as the smiles of the various attendees. Participants from all over were here to dance, drum, sing and celebrate their culture.


As always the color guard opened the ceremonies with all the flags displayed. It is an honor to be chosen to be a member of the color guard and the veterans who participate have all served their country in different branches of the armed services.


There are dances by the men.


Fancy dancers with their fantastic regalia perform in a hypnotizing swirl of color and motion.


Women dancers have their own dances and their regalia and performance is spectacular.


There is every type of regalia from the most highly decorated to very simple traditional and it is all on display.


The powwow couldn’t be held without the drummers who play and sing the traditional songs for the different dances.


Fancy dancers are show stoppers with their incredible regalia and whirling, leaping, contestants. .


There are times when the members take a celebratory turn around the circle and everyone joins in.


Always there is color. The various accessories combine colors in ways that are fascinating.


And always there are gifts. Here apples have  been placed where the youngest of the participants can race out to gather them. Lots of fun for them and lots of fun for those who watch from the sidelines.


The youngest are also watching. Much can be learned by simply observing. This is how knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. By seeing, hearing, participating, talking to their elders, listening to their stories and always with receiving much love and attention.


There are also big observers. But they learn too.


The bead and quill work on the various pieces is incredible. This is all hand done and the numbers of hours and effort that goes into them is beyond counting.


Sharing the experience makes lasting memories for both young and old.


Youngsters waiting for their time to dance. These are great kids and they truly seem to be enjoying their part in all the proceedings. There is a lot of pride here.


More color and detail shows how some of the regalia is constructed.


Many of the participants look as if they stepped out of an Edward Curtis photograph or perhaps a George Catlin painting.


Styles of dress varied. There were as many different looks as there was participants.


Dancing gives life to the clothing, the accessories carried, and to the participants themselves.


The surroundings of the dance began to fade away as you listened to the drums and watched the dances performed. The fact that you were in a gymnasium was lost as you watched dances that could have been performed a hundred years ago.


There was fun and excitement all around but underneath the activity it was always a serious spiritual event. This was not play, this was an expression of the participants culture and beliefs and was always a time of reflection.


This young woman seemed to epitomize the effect these gatherings have on the people who attend them. Pride, attentiveness, beauty, strength of character, awareness of their culture, all folded into this gathering. Feeling the tradition that extends as far back into time as you can see, to right now in the chaos of the present, is reflected in her gaze.


Nearly at the close of the event there was a couples dance. From the married couples down to the teenagers who have been flirting on the sidelines throughout the powwow, they parade around the ever-present circle that determines all they do in life. It shows how this is one large family. A family the reaffirms its bond to the tribe and their culture and to the world at large. That’s what a powwow is about.

In the future I will periodically post more images from this powwow so stay tuned for more. If you type, Crow, Blackfeet, Indian or the name of a gathering you will be able to visit pages from other powwows that have been posted here. There are literally hundreds of images from the many powwows, gatherings and Indian rodeos I have attended. Feel free to browse to your heart’s content. And if you feel so inclined forward this post to interested friends. Thanks