“Callling on Wakan Tanka” Lithograph by Oscar Howe
The original hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of art. This painting depicts a Sioux Indian family in the act of appealing to the Great Spirit to stop a storm from returning. The returning storm was thought to be more destructive because the Sioux believed that once a storm passed it should not return. The storm has created a fire in the prairie grass as the family prays to the Great Spirit, who responds with a bright flash of peaceful lightening. This is a good sign from the Great Spirit who can control the elements in response to their prayers. The buffalo skull represents life and the three figures represent three ways of Sioux prayer: The center figure in the usual peace pipe ceremony, the boy using a rock with a hand print as a totem or an altar and the woman representing the original way of smoke prayer. The inhaling of burned plant life from the earth symbolizes life from the earth to the sky and the cosmic or spiritual meaning of life in relation to nature and Wakan Tanka.