Iron Bear

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Dave McGary’s colorful portrayals of the 19th century Plains Indians are characterized by his popular warrior studies,, among which Iron Bear is a standout. Dave first heard the story of the renowned Sioux warrior, Iron Bear, from his Lakota friend, Gerald Red Elk. Having distinguished himself in many battles, including Little Big Horn, Iron Bear received his name at the Battle of 29 Crows where he charged into the fray and fought without being wounded. Among the Sioux, bears were revered fro their bravery. Prior to battle, warriors often performed a ceremonial bear hunt where the first one to touch the bear, it was believed, would kill many enemies. Following the hunt, members of the war party ate the bear’s meat to boost their own mettle.

True to his name, Iron Bear wears a grizzly bear headdress adorned with three owl feathers on each side – said to embellish wisdom and sight. Twenty-eight feathers grail down his back. A string of bear claws encircles his neck. On his face, half black and half crimson war paint divides it vertically, giving Iron Bear a particularly fierce appearance, with bear tracks running down and over one eye. The bare-chested fighter stands with his left foot on one of three large boulders.

From the Warrior Series, the red and black face paint designates “Iron Bear” as a member of the “Bow Lance”, a secret medicine society also called the “Bow String” and “Inverted Warriors”. Organized by the Great Prophet, who carried the famous bow lance following a four year vision trip to a holy mountain, the society had no chief. Rather, the “Bow Lance” warriors remained independent of each other. But they dressed alike and united for battle. They also were required to be single, as well as solemn, calm, strong and brave. Because they were regarded as especially pure, their advice and counsel was sought on a wide variety of issues.




Maquette, 27.25″ x 13″ x 8.5″, Edition of 60


Warrior Series