The Chairman, Acrylic on Canvas by Eric Tippeconnic

A Comanche tribal chairman doing business in the modern world

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The Chairman is an idealized version of an individual who carries himself with the dignity and confidence of a tribal chairman.

While this piece does not portray an actual tribal chairman from the past or present, it reflects a man with the same great responsibility. Wearing an eagle feather bonnet, this chairman is clearly qualified for the job and exudes confidence as he buttons his coat before heading into a general council meeting. His power and strength exemplify the Comanche people as a living contemporary culture firmly rooted in their traditions while thriving in their modern environs.

Eagle feather headdresses, also called war bonnets, are traditionally a symbol of power and authority reserved for highly respected men. Eagle feathers are given to individuals to acknowledge or commemorate a significant accomplishment and must be earned. In pre-reservation days, they might be awarded for acts of valor like counting coup on an enemy or capturing horses from Comanche foes. Today, this tradition continues with the gifting of an eagle feather for more modern significant accomplishments, such as earning a degree or doing something that benefits the community as a whole. Once an individual has amassed enough eagle feathers, he can make a bonnet. The individual in this painting is extremely confident and has amassed enough eagle feathers to construct a war bonnet, preparing him for battle in the professional world.

Eric Tippeconnic is a historian and visual artist with a special emphasis on painting. He is an original American on his father's side and a first generation American on his mother's side.

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