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The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman: Illustrations of Paul Goble

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This exhibition features all seventeen Paul Goble illustrations from "The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman"—shown together for the first time. Published in 1998, the book relates the traditional narrative of the White Buffalo Woman, who gifted a sacred pipe to the Lakota. Also included in the exhibition are objects from Paul and Janet Goble’s personal collection, including a pipe stem and pipe bowl made by Myron Taylor (Flandreau Santee).

Copies of the book are available for reference in the exhibition gallery and for purchase in the South Dakota Art Museum Store.

Author and illustrator Paul Goble was born in England on September 27, 1933. He grew up in a family where art and literature were valued and promoted. He also grew up with a deep fascination for the indigenous peoples of North America. As a young man he made several visits to the United States to spend time in reservations in South Dakota and Montana. He moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota permanently in 1977 and became an American citizen in 1984.

Throughout his career, Goble garnered countless awards for his writing and artwork. In 1979 he received the Caldecott Medal, which is one of the most prestigious awards in all of children’s literature. Goble’s Caldecott winner, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, is just one of over 40 books in a career extending back to his first title, Red Hawk’s Account of Custer’s Last Battle, published in 1969. Throughout his long career, Goble focused on Plains American Indian history and retellings of traditional American Indian stories.

Goble recognized the issue of an Englishman recording the cultural heritage of American Indians. However, his intentions were clear when he stated, “The myths that I am retelling are not Tolkien-like stories to entertain, but are like Bible stories, parables, which hold real truths at different levels. They are a part of the Native American tradition, part of this land.” Award-winning Lakota author and illustrator S.D. Nelson says, “Paul Goble has a good heart. His paintings and his storytelling honor Lakota ways. Paul Goble, with his artistic insights, has shared our Lakota tradition and spiritual teachings with the world in a positive way. He is a true friend of our people.” Like Nelson, world-renowned Lakota flute player and hoop dancer, Kevin Locke, is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In a letter to Goble Locke once wrote, “You’ve done more to heighten an awareness of our culture than just about anyone I can think of.”

Paul Goble passed away on January 5, 2017. The primary resource for access to works representative of his career is in Brookings, South Dakota, at the South Dakota Art Museum. The museum’s extensive Paul Goble Collection consists of over 500 watercolor, gouache, and ink illustrations.