Male Side:
The Rites of Passage is the very intimate change of life for a young man to adulthood as he takes his place among his people.   He travels on a path towards change and more responsibility.  The blue horse tracks represent the sacredness of each step, witnessed by the four generations of humans. Becoming a man means that he acknowledges both the spirit and living world and becomes a productive role model, representing his people well. 

The shield covered by red cloth represents the presence of protection during the boys time of change, as he walks a path towards becoming a warrior- historically they were protectors of the village and families as well as leaders among the tribe- the feathers are used to acknowledge this.  A red handprint represents the ownership of man’s responsibility to the human race and his promise to become a leader for the people.  The one feather that extends from the red handprint represents the One Truth.  Bells are used on the shield to annunciate the divine powers.

The blue squares represent the mind, body and spirit of the male and acknowledgment of human beings; blue meaning sacred.

Painted on the back hind quarter is The Tree of Life.  The white, black, yellow and red roots are our relatives from the past- of all nations.  The trunk represents us here today; the bark is like our skin.  Inside there's even fluid that flows, sap, just as blood flows within our bodies.  The branches reach up to our Creator- they are our future generations; children, grandchildren.  The colored flags hanging from the branches symbolize our prayers.  Everything has a life.  If we start looking at the world in more of a spiritual way to knowing that it all has a spiritual being, made by the Creator, then we start learning how to respect life, each other and understand how these things work; we become humble and become centered within the Universe. 

Significance of the horse to Black Pinto Horse, Monte Yellow Bird, artist, storyteller and educator,

The horse was a blessing and gift to the First Nation peoples.  In the Arikara language there is no specific word for horse; the combination of the words Holy or sacred and dog make up the word for Horse (Holy Dog).  As a horseman, I have always had a close connection with the Holy Dog and our family has horse bundle medicine on our father’s side.  The carrier of my prayers is that of the horse, or Sacred Dog.