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Assiniboine Indians Pursuing Buffalo on Snowshoes

1846-1848 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (49.6 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.558 Not currently on view


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“In the dead of the winters, which are very long and severely cold in this country, where horses cannot be brought into the chase with any avail, the Indian runs upon the surface of the snow by the aid of his snow shoes, which buoy him up, while the great weight of the buffaloes, sinks them down to the middle of their sides, and completely stopping their progress, ensures them certain and easy victims to the bow or lance of their pursuers. The snow in these regions often lies during the winter, to the depth of three and four feet, being blown away from the tops and sides of the hills in many places, which are left bare for the buffaloes to graze upon, whilst it is drifted in the hollows and ravines to a very great depth, and rendered almost entirely impassable to these huge animals, which, when closely pursued by their enemies, endeavour to plunge through it, but are soon wedged in and almost unable to move, where they fall an easy prey to the Indian, who runs up lightly upon his snow shoes and drives his lance to their hearts.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 31, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Animal - buffalo

Ethnic - Indian - Assiniboin

Figure(s) in exterior - frontier

Landscape - season - winter

Occupation - hunter

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added