Bob Scriver and the Indians (Photo Diary)

Bob Scriver (1914-1999) is among the West’s greatest sculptors. He was born on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. His forte was American Indians. As a scholar of Blackfoot Indian culture and history, he is known for his ability to capture historically accurate detail in his sculptures. He was given the Blackfoot name Sik-Poke-Sah-Ma-Pee.  

Scriver’s biography in the Fine Art Dealers Association states:

An accomplished musician, Scriver earned his master’s degree in music, taught in Montana public schools, and played professionally in big bands before taking up taxidermy, which would assist him in his ultimate profession, sculpture. A student and scholar of Native American artifacts, Scriver is best remembered for creating a series of sculptures that chronicled the history of the Blackfeet Tribe, as well as a series devoted to rodeo subjects.

Scriver operated the Museum of Montana Wildlife and the Hall of Bronze in Browning on the Blackfeet Reservation. After his death in 1999, these two collections were given to the Montana Historical Society.

The Scriver family collection of Blackfoot artifacts was sold to the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Alberta. This collection included some ceremonial Blackfoot bundles and this upset many of the tribal elders. Alberta returned the sacred objects to the Canadian Blackfoot.

Shown below are some of the Scriver sculptures which are on display at the Old Fort Benton in Fort Benton, Montana.

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The Blackfoot Beaver Dance is shown above.  According to the display:

“The beaver bundle was the largest and oldest sacred bundle of the Blackfoot and is uniquely theirs. For years beaver holy men added parts and songs from other bundles. As the ritual grew, there were more and more participants. The sacred rites and songs multiplied to such an extent that the owner and his wife needed help with the ceremony. The part of the bundle opening ceremony depicted here is the Dance of the Beaver done by the wives of the Beaver Men. Holding beaver sticks in their mouths and carrying a stuffed beaver skin, they imitate a beaver swimming in and out of the lodge to the beat and songs of the rattles. Today there are too few beaver people to perform the complete ceremony.”

2 thoughts on “Bob Scriver and the Indians (Photo Diary)

  1. What a joy to discover this story!  I was with Bob Scriver in the Sixties and helped cast many of these sculptures.  Many are portraits of real people, whom I knew.  The Fort Benton location is an excellent setting.  My biography of Bob, which includes stories about the making of these sculptures, is called “Bronze Inside and Out” and can be bought online or through a bookstore.

    Prairie Mary

    Mary Scriver

    Valier, MT

  2. Okii, Mary
    You know me I am always so interested and always learning about being “Blackfoot/Feet”. Let me know what has been published, books etc.,
    Thank-you in advance
    Niistowa, Shirlee

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