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). This piece announces the blessing and gift of the horse to the First Nation peoples.
In this piece the world is divided into two, by a yellow line of enlightenment. The bottom world represents the human world and is painted by the color red to represent the blood of the people. Six horses running are the color of Sage, a plant gifted to the people for purification and blessing.
Four hand prints with horse hair attached to their centers, symbolize the four stages of life and the ascension from enlightenment (yellow) to purity (white). The Holy Dog is surrounded by a rectangular frame; representing the structured label that is placed on the gift by humans who don’t truly understand the nature of Creator’s intent.
The feather that is tied on the mane of the Holy Dog is placed close to the ear so the one truth can be heard. The upper world is splashed by tints of heavenly colors and surrounded by black to represent life’s mystery. The small frame in the upper left hand corner is our ability to understand the mystery of life. A small white dot is the heavenly purity surrounded by the color of red, symbolizing love.
Holy Dog, the Gift l is preceded by Holy dog, the Gift ll on permanent display at the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame that depicts the gifting of the holy dog to the 5 nations of North Dakota.