The Herd Dance
This mural represents the harmony between humans and the hooved animals that provide food to the Pueblo people. Animals are hunted to sustain human life, and they are honored for their sacrifice. The Herd Dance depicts a group of male dancers as deer, antelope, and ram (big horn sheep), led by two male buffalo dancers and a female dancer. The male dancers wear water serpent- (Avanyu-) adorned kilts with woven black and red belts. The deer, antelope, and ram dancers simulate animals and dance with wooden sticks as forelegs, bent over in the position of four-legged animals. Unique at the time, Pablita incorporated herself as the female dancer.
Pablita Velarde was known as Tse Tsan, or Golden Dawn. She was the daughter of Marianita Chavarria and Herman Velarde of Santa Clara. She was also the mother of Helen Hardin, an IPCC mural artist and accomplished artist in her own right. She attended the Santa Fe Indian School in 1936, and became a teacher, lecturer, author, illustrator, and painter. She learned painting techniques at the Santa Fe Indian School, and dreamed of interpreting the traditions of her people through art. She overcame many obstacles and tried other pursuits, such as nursing and typing, before returning to the field she knew and loved. In addition to painting, she sculpted clay figurines and wrote an illustrated a book, Old Grandfather's Tales. Her work can be seen at Bandelier National Monument, the De Young Museum of San Francisco, many Southwestern galleries, and numerous private collections. In 1954, she was decorated by the French Government with the Ordre des Palmes Académiques.
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