Freedom of the Prairie
  Claudia May Hanson
  City of Ardmore

Artist's Description

It is hard for us to realize how fortunate we are. I arise in the morning, have quick breakfast. Hit the freeway and drive 23 miles to my job. It takes no time at all, because the freeway system in Oklahoma is so great. But it wasn't always this way. One hundred and fifty years ago this was virgin territory. I remember when my grandfather told about the herds of buffalo that came fearfully close to the family farm and sometimes raced through the corn crop, leaving very little to harvest. Grandfather said the Indians who often passed, scouting the buffalo never bothered the family. The design on this buffalo was inspired by the tales told by my grandfather. The painting on each side of my buffalo will be Prix de West quality of the way it used to be. The skulls on the shoulders of my buffalo were inspired by the artifacts I have seen in various Indian Pow Wows and at State Fair Grounds in various places, including California and Oklahoma. An Indian artist and close friend showed
Click photos for close-up

me his collection of artifacts, which included the two skulls that I have used. The Plains Indians lived in harmony with nature. The skulls were symbolic and were central in sacred ceremonies. On the right shoulder of my buffalo is Tatonka, the Great buffalo, believed to be directly related to the Great Spirit. On the left shoulder of my buffalo is the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman. She was a prophet and was believed to have healing powers. When I observe Oklahoma today, I realize just how far we have progressed and how we are continuing to build for the future.
Photos by Linda Barry

Spirit of the Buffalo originated as a public art project combining art, commerce and civic pride in Oklahoma featuring Oklahoma artists. Initial proceeds benefited the Nature Conservancy's work in Oklahoma. The website project continues through private funds.