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Na-pów-sa, Bear Traveling at Night, a Chief

1830 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.238 Not currently on view


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George Catlin probably painted Bear Traveling at Night, a chief of the Potawatomi/Prairie Band, at Fort Leavenworth (in today’s Kansas) in 1830. Of the Potawatomi, Catlin wrote: “The remains of a tribe who were once very numerous and warlike, but reduced by whiskey and small-pox, to their present number, which is not more than 2700. This tribe may be said to be semi-civilized, inasmuch as they have so long lived in contiguity with white people, with whom their blood is considerably mixed, and whose modes and whose manners they have in many respects copied. From a similarity of language as well as of customs and personal appearance, there is no doubt that they have formerly been a part of the great tribe of Chippeways or Ot-ta-was, living neighbours and adjoining to them, on the North.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 47, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ethnic - Indian - Potawatomi

Portrait male - Bear Traveling At Night

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added