Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien

1835-1836 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (49.7 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.430 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 2B

Luce Center Label

George Catlin witnessed Choctaw lacrosse in Indian Territory in 1834, but a year later, at Prairie du Chien in today’s Wisconsin, Catlin saw and recorded the Eastern Sioux/Dakota version of ball-play. He later described the game: “In the ball-play of the women, they have two balls attached to the ends of a string, about a foot and a half long; and each woman has a short stick in each hand, on which she catches the string with the two balls, and throws them, endeavoring to force them over the goal of her own party.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 52, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)


Ethnic - Indian - Dakota

Ethnic - Indian - Sioux

Figure group - female

Landscape - Wisconsin - Prairie du Chien

Recreation - sport and play - ball


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added