Joanne Brings Thunder
Pah-Siko Camas, 2022
Acrylic paint, ink, colored pencil on antique ledger paper dated 1862
11” x 17”
When pah-siko camas blooms in the traditional mountain meadows and the open prairies of my Shoshone people, it creates a spectacular sky-blue display that reminds my people of its rich history and traditional uses. You simply cannot pass over the early spring flowers without noticing their beauty, nor dig the bulbs in silence, as harvesting them gently from the earth is an all-day job, hard on the back. Once plentiful, pah-siko bulbs supplied many tribes including my own with a staple food, medicine and valuable trade commodity. Camas grows from British Columbia to the north and California to the south, all the way east into western Montana and Wyoming. Cultivation and trading expanded its natural geographic range, while controlled burning of traditional harvest grounds helped sustain this annual crop for many tribes. Many of these habitats have now been degraded or lost; many camas populations have disappeared. The cultural uses, botanical traits, and geography of pah-siko create an intriguing story and justification for future conservation and restoration efforts. Although some tribal restoration efforts are reintroducing pah-siko as a foundation species, additional research and greater public awareness are needed to foster more widespread restoration toward living in harmony with all of Creation.
Acrylic paint, ink, colored pencil on antique ledger paper dated 1810
11” x 17”
For Shoshone people, the concept of “interconnectedness” is at the core of our view of the world. We believe everything in the universe is connected, and that every person, creature, plant, and object has a purpose; all deserve to be respected and cared for, and have an important role to play in the overall script of life. Our people are tightly connected to their communities, to their ancestors, to future generations, and to the lands and environment in which live. We share a sacred connection to animals, plants and even inanimate objects that reside on these lands. Prior to contact with European explorers, traders and settlers, Shoshone lived in harmony with their natural environment. Their practices were based on acute awareness, and knowledge of ecology, the need for sustainability, climate, and earth science. This knowledge has, through thousands of years, been shared with subsequent generations, allowing us to love, and to demonstrate environmental responsibility by respecting the ideas of sustainability and continuous relationships. The earth is sacred, part of a “web of creation.” Humans are also part of this web and share a close relationship with nature, rather than control it.
Joanne Brings Thunder is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation of Wyoming. She in a multi-faceted artist and award-winning architect who was introduced to Northern Plains Indian Art at age five. As Joanne’s creativity and talent were being revealed in inventive drawings and beadwork, her grandmother, renowned Shoshone regalia maker, Eva McAdams (1996 NEA National Heritage Fellow), encouraged the emerging artist to master her drawings, beadwork and creativity.
Joanne’s love for art, and all it has to offer, has grown and advanced with her throughout the years, bringing her artistic style and creativity to where it is today. This Shoshone artist has risen to painting on canvas, ledger paper, parfleche and hides. She has skillfully developed her traditional and contemporary styles of American Indian art and crafted jewelry, textiles, fashion and home décor. Each piece is created intentionally with thoughtful patience, authenticity and pride, integrating ancestral legend, symbolism and history. Joanne currently lives and works on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
For more information, see: jbringsthunder.com