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Ball-play of the Choctaw--Ball Up

1846-1850 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 25 3/4 x 32 in. (65.4 x 81.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.428A Not currently on view

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In 1834, George Catlin witnessed Choctaw lacrosse in Indian Territory near present-day Oklahoma, and was captivated by the game. He described ball-play as “a school for the painter or sculptor, equal to any of those which ever inspired the hand of the artist in the Olympian games or the Roman forum.” Lacrosse, which involved a no-holds-barred struggle for the ball, was a physical, even violent, game called “little brother of war” in Choctaw.


Architecture Exterior - domestic - teepee

Ethnic - Indian - Choctaw

Figure group

Recreation - sport and play - ball


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added