“Power and Prestige: Headdresses of the American Plains” Opens at the National Cowboy Museum

New exhibition seeks to understand the roles of Native American headdresses in both ceremony and conflict.

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 3 – The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will host Power and Prestige: Headdresses of the American Plains, opening August 26 – May 14, 2017. This original exhibition curated by the Museum includes nine headdresses from Northern and Southern American Great Plains along with historical photographs, and other supporting artifacts.

The gallery will include ledger art depicting Indian warriors and bonnets from the Museum’s permanent collection. Along with the exhibition’s ledger art will be photography and paintings of bonnets in both religious ceremonies and daily life. All art and artifacts are attributed to the Blackfoot, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Crow, Kiowa, Lakota, and Pawnee tribes.

“The exhibition explores the evolution of the headdress, otherwise known as a war bonnet, with a particular focus on the ‘flared’ style, the most recognizable and commonly worn North American Great Plains bonnet,” said Eric Singleton, Curator of Ethnology at the National Cowboy Museum. “While presenting a realistic investigation of the feather headdress, the Power and Prestige exhibition explores who wore them, what place they held in society, and how these uses varied depending on tribal nation and even the headdress maker.”

Feather headdresses are an iconic image of the American West, yet the truth behind these emblematic items is more complex than the name ‘war bonnet’ would indicate. Going back centuries, headdresses have played an important role in both ritual and war, and with many tribal varieties in style, use, and design.

Exhibition-relation programming includes:

Western Movie Matinees: A Medley of Hollywood Indians
August 31 – September 21, 1:00 p.m., Dub and Mozelle Richardson Theater
This four-week series created for adult audiences examines depictions of Native Americans in film. Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans in the studio era was as complex as it was inaccurate. Film historian Elizabeth Anthony, president of Reel Classics, presents a film sampling with introductions and commentary. Popcorn provided and Museum and theater admission is free on Wide Open Wednesdays, courtesy of Oklahoma Ford Dealers.

Brown Bag Lunch Series
September 1, 8 and 22, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
September 1, Emblems of War and Regalia, Exhibition Curator Eric Singleton
September 8, Plains Pictographs: Images of Native Life Drawn on Hide, Cloth, and Paper,
Christina E. Burke, Curator of Native American & Non-Western Art, Philbrook Museum of Art
September 22, Cultural Appropriation and Headdresses, Matt Reed, 2nd Chief of the Chaui Band of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and Curator of American Indian Collections at the Oklahoma Museum of History

Professional Teacher Development Workshop
Power and Prestige: Teaching the Headdresses of the American Plains
September 22, 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
A free K-12 Teacher Professional Development Opportunity for 30 at the National Cowboy Museum in collaboration with the College of Education and Professional Studies, University of Central Oklahoma. Register at

Fall Break Drop-in Activities for Children and Families
October 10-14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

October 10 – Native American Dance Troop Performances
October 11 – Beadwork Techniques: Loom your own Beadwork Bracelet
October 12 – Ledger Art and Battle Scenes
October 13 – Hide Painting and Bonnet Imagery
October 14 – Quillwork Rosettes

Power and Prestige Children’s Gallery, February 4, 2017 – May 19, 2017
Explore bravery, pageantry, artistry, community, and respect for culture and diversity in the Children’s Gallery. For children to explore on their own, in small groups, or as a family.

Funding for Power and Prestige: Headdresses of the American Plains is provided, in part, by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of OHC or NEH.

About the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located only six miles northeast of Downtown Oklahoma City, at the junction of Interstates 44 and 35, the state’s exciting Adventure Road corridor. The Museum offers annual memberships beginning at just $40. For more information about the Museum, visit
For high-resolution photographs of the National Cowboy Museum and the exhibition, visit