Grandpa Smoke, the magnificent Nokota® stallion known as "Papa," died early on January 17th, 2014 just a few months shy of his twentieth birthday. While he never left Linton, North Dakota, Nokota® fans around the world knew him through images on the Conservancy website, in publications, and on merchandise. He was stunning: a perfectly balanced fifteen hand dun overo with a dorsal stripe down his back, dark "tiger stripes" above his knees and silky white feathering on the back of his legs. But it was his proud carriage that made him so photogenic - he always held his head high, drawing attention to his delicate black-rimmed ears, his heavy, copper-streaked mane and his kind but vigilant eye, which was often half hidden by his long forelock. At a trot or canter he floated over the ground, arching his neck and tucking in his head. Sadly, only a few years after becoming a herd stallion he suffered a sudden loss of sight and with it, much of his freedom. But he maintained his dignity to the end. Even then, and even in photographs, it was clear that Papa was a special horse.
The passing of Papa Smoke also marks the end of an era. He was one of the first foundation stallions bred by Leo Kuntz, and his parents were both born wild in the badlands. His sire was War Chief, a dominant but quiet blue roan stallion, and his dam was a grey mare descended from Midnight, a small, Spanish looking black stallion who eluded all efforts to capture him. Midnight and his band were the only park horses who had the "dun factor," and Papa's ability to pass this on to his offspring made him especially valuable.
This is a moment to pause and reflect on our shared mission to ensure a future for the Nokota® horses. Thanks to the Kuntz brothers and to the generosity of people touched by Nokotas® and their story, Papa Smoke lived comfortably and contributed to future generations of these special horses. But time is passing, and we still have much to do. I hope you will join me today in making a special donation to the Nokota® Horse Conservancy in honor of the unique and beloved Papa Smoke.
Senior Vice President
Nokota® Horse Conservancy
All of us at the Nokota® Horse Conservancy would like to take this moment to wish you the warmest of holiday seasons but especially to express our deepest thanks for your recent donation. Generous gifts from donors like you provide the financial and moral support needed to continue our mission. With your faithful financial contributions, you have demonstrated your deep commitment to our work of saving the Native horse of the Northern Plains. Without your generous gifts the preservation efforts of the NHC wouldn't be what it is at this present moment. There is no way to fully express our gratitude for your loyalty. We are continually inspired by the dedication and generosity of donors like yourself who answer the call to give again and again. May you and yours experience the wonders of the holiday season and the blessings of prosperity, health and much happiness in the New Year. Please view this very special video as our thank you to you.
Thank you Dena Sutton for creating this compelling video in honor of the Nokota® horses and the people that support them.
“'Horse' wasn’t my first word,” said Castle McLaughlin, the associate curator of North American ethnography at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. “But it should have been.” McLaughin co-curated the Peabody exhibit "Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West,” which prominently features Nokota horses, a breed she is helping to preserve. By Colleen Walsh, Harvard Staff Writer
Castle McLaughlin came face to face with her future in the summer of 1986, staring into the eyes of a wild, blue roan stallion. She had parents who were equestrians, a grandfather who was a well-known polo player, and a pony from age 5, and she grew up with a profound love for the animals.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
If you have any experience with this breed you know that trust is an innate part of their nature, even in the wild. Right now 118 Nokotas® face a harsh reality that you can help change. Pasture leases have tripled and that, along with last year's drought, has left them at risk for a future. You and I can cut that risk. It's easy. Just go to ( Nokota® Circle of Life) and become a Nokota® Circle of Life member. $25 is not a lot to ask. Together we can ensure that these beautiful and trusting creatures have a future. Truly. It's up to you and me. Right now. With a few clicks we can support an American legacy . . . . . . . and life. So please, share this with everyone you know who may care that these animals have enough to eat and a place to spend the winter with plentiful hay and pasture. It is not asking too much. (link to Nokota® Circle of Life )
You and I can make a substantial difference in the lives of Nokota® horses right now. It's up to us!!! (Click here to become a Nokota® Circle of Life Member Now!) This level of membership will receive one complimentary copy of the Nokota® News newsletter.
UC-Berkeley student, Lucie Schwartz, filmed this mini-documentary in March 2008. A wonderfully new perspective on the work the Kuntz' have been doing to protect the Nokota® horses for the past 30 years.