By Brad Reynolds

Art is more than an occupation for Catherine Black Horse. Her work acts as both a window into the past and as a path forward for Native women. “There’s a spiritual aspect to the
art I create,” explains Black Horse. “I make dresses to remind women to be powerful in who they are.”

A member of the Seminole Nation Beaver Clan, Black Horse creates dresses that are one-of-a-kind. One example of her work, in the collection of the Heard Museum in Arizona, is valued at $20,000.00 and is comprised of 300 bull elk teeth. Other dresses incorporate fine wool, silk, ribbons, metal sequins, dentalium shells, and antique thimbles—mostly traditional materials that would have been used in the 1800s. Many of Black Horse’s works have best of division at the Heard Museum, Autry Museum, and Santa Fe Indian Market. Each dress is entirely unique in appearance, but all are reflections of the artist’s values.

“Women in Indian Country can go through such hard things. I want to inspire and encourage them,” Black Horse explains. Black Horse’s daughters, Bree and Victoria, were among the first to receive this encouragement from her. Their mother designed their powwow regalia, and through their experiences as powwow royalty, they learned many life skills. Today, Victoria is an internal medicine doctor, serving on the Seattle Indian Health Board. Bree is a federal prosecutor with a focus on missing and murdered Indigenous women. “Both serve Indian Country,” says Black Horse proudly.

Meanwhile, Black Horse continues to create masterfully designed dresses, with a message for all women: “Walk in beauty, vision, and power to inspire our loved ones and build generational legacy to strengthen our families and communities.”

Catherine Black Horse is showing in Booth BOTW #19 at the Great Western Art Show in Great Falls. For more information, find her on Instagram under catherineblackhorse.

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