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Butte de Mort, Sioux Burial Ground, Upper Missouri

1837-1839 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 20 x 27 3/8 in. (50.9 x 69.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.475 Not currently on view

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George Catlin probably sketched this image on his Missouri River voyage in 1832, but did not produce a finished painting for several years. In his 1848 Catalogue, Catlin noted that the French called this Sioux burial ground Butte de Mort, or “Hill of Death,” and that the Indians regarded the site “with great dread and superstition. There are several thousand buffalo and human skulls, perfectly bleached and curiously arranged about it.” (Catlin, 1848 Catalogue, Catlin’s Indian Gallery, SAAM online exhibition)


Animal - horse

Ethnic - Indian - Teton Sioux

Figure group - male

Landscape - cemetery

Landscape - river - Missouri River

Landscape - United States - Butte De Mort



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added