Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dances with Wolves & Kicking Bird vexillology, part 1

John Dunbar with US Military Guidon Flag

Released in 1990 Dances with Wolves became a sparkling jewel cast in gold. The movie is set during the US Civil War period and a US Army Officer sick of fighting and the bloodshed gets a fateful opportunity to see the American Frontier before it disappears.

Kevin Costner plays as the semi-fictional John Dunbar. His distaste for war and curiosity to see the disappearing natural and wild American Frontier leads him on a winding road of war, romance, and a spiritual journey towards the inner and true heart of America.

Kicking Bird with Vexilloid

The wise medicine man - Kicking Bird - of the plains senses that John Dunbar is different from his wild American brethren. Kicking Bird is able to see that Dunbar is more that just a visitor and more of an man deserving a real name.

In this picture Kicking Bird is holding his personal vexilloid - a primitive flag. It consists of a several Eagle feathers and a red woven fabric with a white fringe attached to a bow.

Wind in the Hair & Kicking Bird
meeting John Dunbar of the US Army

The decorated spears that the Plains Indians carried had as much symbolic meaning as the US flag did for John Dunbar. However the Native American flags were of a personal nature like heraldry. The flag that Dunbar carries represented his tribe but not John Dunbar the individual.

John Dunbar with US Guidon

In other words, Newcomer Euro-Americans like the Native Americans carried decorated poles that served to identify and represent themselves. Native Americans had very individualized organic flags while Newcomer Americans had refined manufactured flags that represented a large community.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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