Buffalo Horn Chips
Lakota Medicine Man

Return to Book Projects

A photography book series by Franz Brown presenting wotawes, objects made by Woptuha (Buffalo Horn Chips) and used by Lakota people for protection, power and various forms of good fortune.

Links to Books: Book Series on the Wotawe. As of Nov 2012 available on line.
Go to http://www.lulu.com, use  "Woptuha, Franz, Brown"  for your search terms.

Woptuha Book 1,
"Talking to Spirits
Talismanic Relics of the Lakota Medicine Man Woptuha, an Introduction"
Introduces the reader to a variety of wotawe.
Woptuha Book 2,
"Thunder Visions
The Crazy Horse Wotawe
of the Lakota Medicine Man Woptuha"
A collection of wotawe claimed to have been made for Crazy Horse.
Woptuha Book 3,
Shadow World Voices
The Yuwipi Figures
of the Lakota Medicine Man Woptuha
Wotawe used in conjunction with the Yuwipi ceremony.
Woptuha Book 4,
Wicasa Pejuta
Herbal Wotawe
of the Lakota Medicine Man Woptuha
Wotawe representing Lakota medicinal plants in the palm of a hand.
Woptuha Book 5
Shunke Wakan
of the Lakota Medicine Man Woptuha
Wotawe in which the horse is an element.

Lakota often had different names throughout their lives. Woptuha was also known by the names Pte He Woptuha, Buffalo Horn Chips, Horn Chips, Chips, Chipps, His Leggings and Encouraging Bear.


These books may be purchased at http://www.lulu.com. It is usually best to go here first to see if there are any special discounts being offered. Then enter the search terms: "franz brown woptuha." That will give you the Woptuha books plus other books by Franz Brown.  

You may also take the following links to get to the individual pages for the books.

Book 1: Talking to Spirits

Book 2: Thunder Visions

Book 3: Shadow World Voices

Book 4: Wicasa Pejuta

Book 5: Shunke Wakan





One of the great Indian nations of the Americas that has long held an important place in American history and culture included the Lakota who rose to dominance in the area that now includes Nebraska, Wyoming and North and South Dakota. 

One of the great medicine men of the Lakota was Woptuha, also called Buffalo Horn Chips or simply Chips.  (The Lakota tradition of changing names throughout ones lifetime has added some confusion to how to refer to Woptuha / Chips, for clarity I will henceforth use only Woptuha or the English translation "Chips.")

Wisdom was one of four highly regarded virtues among the Lakota. A man who had gained wisdom in how to communicate with the spirits and to interpret dreams was Wicasa Wakan, basically wise in mysterious things. Such was Woptuha. Within his functions was the interpretation of dreams and visions, the production of wotawe and the instruction of those who received the wotawe in their proper use including how to wear them and what songs or words were to be said or sung to make them effective. Woptuha was also Wicasa Pejuta, one who is wise in the use of plants.

The wotawe were generally produced in pairs, one given to the person seeking their use and another, an enabler, which was meant to act as a channel for the spiritual forces that came to Woptuha and were passed be him through the wotawe to the person using it, the supplicant.

Woptuha produced the first wotawe used by Crazy Horse who was his cousin. Over the years he produced many thousands of these objects and these were used by important leaders and other medicine men.

When their purpose had been served the wotawe were considered powerless. Many were returned to Woptuha who saved them. He passed them on to his sons who kept them hidden and eventually passed them on down through the generations. Over the years many of them were sold to private collectors.

A few of these objects were made available to Franz Brown in 2005 and since then more have been provided to him to be photographed in the hopes of preserving the memory of and artistic legacy of Woptuha. This series of books presents the wotawe made by Woptuha. The focus is on the visual aspects of the work. Where possible the purpose of the wotawe is briefly described but many have become separated from their intent.

The artist sees these works as an important cultural legacy, not only of the Lakota but of humanity. Recognizing that these will be for the most part dispersed Brown hopes that at least through the works shown in the books the viewer might gain an appreciation for Woptuha and this aspect of Lakota culture.

These books are being self published through http://www.lulu.com.

Home : Top : Art : Paintings  Photographs  : Galleries : Biography
Franz Links : Links to Art Sites : Santa Claus

Franz Brown Home
Contact Franz Brown:

or write
Franz Brown, 646 S 16th Apt B4, Hot Springs, SD 57747