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By nature the Plains Indians were nomadic, and the buffalo herds were practically their sole source of food, clothing, shelter and utensils. When Winter set in and the herds moved South, the tribes packed their possessions and followed upon the huge animals' trail. When the herds stopped in the grassy lowlands or valleys, the Plains tribes camped close by, but usually on the higher ground to avoid scattering the herds. The Indians and buffalo lived side by side. There was a natural order and balance when the Indians and buffalo shared the plains before the white men began to kill off the herds for sport. As Summer came and the herd moved to the cooler North, the Indian families loaded up their belongings once again to return to their northern homelands. At least twice a year the tribes relocated to follow the herds. The first phase of the hunt was to scout the herd and plan the best strategy for attack based on such factors as weather, wind and terrain. In the second phase of the hunt, Tiger depicts the Indian's skill as hunters, surrounding the herd and coming in for the kill. The drama of the event, the force and action of the scene are an historical epic. The third and final scene portrays the Indians as tired, but victorious, dragging home their kill to present to the tribe. The importance of the kill to those waiting in the distant teepees, who based their lives on the hunting skills of the warriors, can not be overstated. When a hunt was a success everyone in the camp enjoyed days of feasting. In the Buffalo Hunt, Tiger has captured with classic expression the three main facets of the hunt: the scouting, the kill, and the return.
In the second of the Cultural Series, "Intermission", Jerome Tiger captures a moment of rest between stomp dances. The stomp dance is a 'prayer in motion'. It can symbolize thankfulness, supplication for a good harvest, rain, fertility or simply blessings. Typically the dances last through the night, sometimes continuting for days. Needless to say periods of rest and refreshment are neceessary; therefore, "Intermission". The stomp dances are unique in that they are not 'tourist' dances, for they are performed still today in the seclusion of the backwoods. The dancers dance in a circle around an open fire to a plaintive chant intoned by the leader and answered in unison by the dancers. The dances are accompanied by persistent drum beats and the rhythmic sounds of rock-filled turtle shells strapped to the womens' ankles. There is great artistry required in leading the chants, and the best leaders and dancers are awarded a postiion of high respect. Of particular interest in this painting is the adoption of the white man's apparel -- boots, jeans, and hats -- together with traditional Indian dress, symbolizing a subtle integration of the two cultures.
One of Jerome Tiger's favorite subjects was children. In "The Protected Ones" he combines his often used ethereal theme with a tender protrayal of two children -- perhaps lost and alone in this world, but still watched and protected. At the time "The Protected Ones" was painted Jerome Tiger had two children who were appoximately the same age as the children in the painting. Characteristically, he used family and friends in his art, and from this imagery evolved the beautiful themes for his paintings. The realm of the hereafter was as natural as the past and present to Jerome Tiger. He could portray a spiritual theme with the same skill and ease as he could a worldly one. The belief that the Guiding Spirit watches over his people comes from the heart of the artist and the hearts of his Indian people.
"Never Get Away" is the third painting reproduced in the Cultural Series. It follows "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" and "Intermission". The paintings in this series often have a brown background. The figures appear to fade into the canvass in some places, and stand out in stark relief in others. This concept originated with Tiger, and the style is unique. As the name of the series implies, these paintings have a cultural theme; each depicts the Creek Tribe in everyday life, and is accurate as to clothing and activities. "Never Get Away" goes back to the period when Oklahoma was Indian Territory. This was a time when the tribes governed themselves. The Light Horesemen were Indian police who kept law and order within the tribe. The title "Never Get Away" describes the painting well. The Light Horseman is doing his job, has caught his man, and is ready to bring him to justice. It may be noted that the 'Indian way' was not prison. That was the white man's innovation. The Indian traditionally punished his own with banishment, whippings or death. Cultural ties were so strong that the so called prisoner was not jailed, but was expected to wait until punishment was netted out.