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Art Native American

War Paintings of the Tsuu T'ina Nation

by (author) Arni Brownstone

University of Nebraska Press, The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2015
Native American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2015
    List Price

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During much of the nineteenth century, paintings functioned as the Plains Indians’ closest equivalent to written records. The majority of their paintings documented warfare, focusing on specific war deeds. These pictorial narratives continue to expand historical knowledge of a people and place in transition. Arni Brownstone studies several important war paintings and artifact collections of the Tsuu T’ina (Sarcee) that provide insight into the changing relations between the Tsuu T’ina, other plains tribes, and non-Native communities during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All known Tsuu T’ina paintings are considered in the study, as are several important collections of Tsuu T’ina artifacts. Brownstone’s work furthers our understanding of Tsuu T’ina pictographic war paintings in relation to the social, historical, and artistic forces that influenced them and provides a broader understanding of pictographic painting, one of the richest and most important Native American artistic and literary genres.

About the author

Arni Brownstone is Assistant Curator of World Cultures at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He is the author of War Paint: Blackfoot and Sarcee Painted Buffalo Robes in the Royal Ontario Museum. He lives in Toronto. (Approved)

Arni Brownstone's profile page


  • Short-listed, Melva J. Dwyer Award

Editorial Reviews

"This book is worth the price alone just for the magnificent illustrations.... This is an important book, both for studying the history and culture of the Tsuu T'ina and for gaining an appreciation for the creativity of Native artists."

Alberta History

"War Paintings of the Tsuu T'ina Nation is a scholarly study of these pictorial narratives, featuring color reproductions...along with extensive interpretation and commentary... Extensive notes and an index round out this thoughtful, in-depth contribution to Art and Native American History collections."

Library Bookwatch

"Brownstone analyzes five war exploits painted records by Tsuu T’ina (Sarcee) men... In Brownstone’s nuanced interpretation, war exploits were the capital for men’s social status, codified and recited on many occasions. Not only exhibited on robes wrapped around admirable men, exploits were painted on tipis by groups of such men, making their histories communal history for their bands. Ready exchanges and incorporations of ideas between many Plains First Nations produced the genre of war paintings that Brownstone’s scholarship and empathy illuminate."

Choice Magazine

"[T]his outstanding piece of work is a worthy investment and a must-have for scholars, educators and students of Indigenous Studies programs across the continent.... His work, which offers valuable insight into a little-known culture, offers readers an inside look at the tools and methods of communication and storytelling in a time before there were books to write on or pens to write with.... Brownstone has done a magnificent job of providing, in laymen's terms, an in-depth look at life on the plains in the 1800s."

Alberta Native News