the ultimate decision
2012, oil, 38"h x 60"w
The River Crow were a nomadic hunting tribe that ranged from the Yellowstone to the Wind River during the historic period. At one time, after suffering severe abuse at the hands of the Cheyenne, they began to consider a retaliatory raid. The tribal elders and leading warriors implored the venerable war chief of the River Crow bands to lead this war party. Unsure of the wisdom of such a bold venture, the chief chose to entreat the spiritual and cosmic forces as to the strength of his personal medicine. Their intercession would determine his answer. Liang's painting depicts the test that was devised.
A mound of piled buffalo robes was made in the center of the camp. The principle leaders, chiefs and medicine men watch intently as the chief kneels at the top of the pile. preparing to roll his sacred ear shield down the mound. His shield depicts the mythological hero Spring Boy, the destroyer of Crow enemies and the one who bestows honor and dignity upon the people. The chief announces that if the painted side of the shield falls facing up towards the sun, then Sun will have indeed given his blessing for the intended attack. It did come to rest image-up, and a great Crow victory ensued.