Xavier's director of photography premieres photo exhibit for Native American Heritage Month

Greg Rust has been photographing as guest of the reservation for five years | November 9, 2012

“Northern Plains Customs,” a photo exhibit and video premiere by Greg Rust, Xavier’s director of photography, opens on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 4:00 p.m. in the Gallagher Student Center’s Clock Tower Lounge, as part of Native American Heritage Month. Rust and his daughter, Erin, Class of 2012, will be discussing their experiences on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Lame Deer, Mont., as guests of tribal member Dennis Limberhand.

Their friendship and mutual respect resulted in the exhibit and video premiere. Rust has photographed life and customs on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Lame Deer, Mont. for the past five years. The Rusts will discuss their visits to the reservation, and Erin will address the historical significance of the horse to the tribes through her research done while earning her history minor.

The event is free and open to the public.

The 20 images in the photo exhibit were made in Montana on the Cheyenne and Crow reservations. The 16x24 color images capture fleeting moments at rodeos, powwows and riding horses on the reservation.

The video tells the story of life on the reservation through the words and experiences of Leroy Whiteman and Limberhand, members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Both grew up on the reservation, living and learning about the importance of the horse and buffalo to the Cheyenne. They also learned about their ancestors, who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Rust talked with both about their lives, their tribe and their heritage.

The Northern Plains of the American West were sparsely inhabited until the horse made the vast grasslands accessible to native peoples. With the arrival of horses, Native Americans developed a nomadic lifestyle that bound them to the migratory tides of the great herds. With the demise of this lifestyle, tribes were forced to adapt to life on reservations.

Their bond with the horse survived that transition. As “Indian cowboys,” many Cheyenne, Lakota and Crow make their living off the back of a horse. They display their horsemanship skill in rodeo competitions. Often coinciding with rodeos, powwows are a venue for Native Americans to socialize and share tribal traditions and culture. These public gatherings are places to compete for awards in singing, dancing and costume.

Xavier University’s Offices of Multicultural Affairs and University Communications, International Student Services and the department of history are co-sponsors of the photo exhibit, video and opening talk.