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Iromagaja (Rain in the Face, Hunkpapa Lakota, ca. 1835–1905), drawing
ca. 1885
Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota
Paper and pencil
18 x 11.5 cm
Bequest of De Cost Smith

The Hunkpapa Lakota warrior and leader Iromagaja, or Rain-in-the-Face, was among the most sensationalized Plains Indians of the 19th century. He allied with other Lakota leaders, such as Red Cloud and Sitting Bull, and fought the U.S. Army throughout the 1860s and 1870s. Known equally well to journalists and cavalry officers, he fought to gain back control of land along the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming and Montana, and to protect the Black Hills in South Dakota. In 1876 Rain-in-the-Face was one of the leading warriors in the defeat of General George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

This drawing by Rain-in-the-Face depicts two warriors reenacting war deeds. Both are holding weapons, and one is wearing a feather bustle, suggesting that they are performing the Omaha Dance—a ceremony introduced throughout the Plains by Omaha people after 1850. Only Omaha Lodge leaders wear the bustle. By 1900, most Plains communities were performing a version of the ceremony, having received the rights of the bustle.

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