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Foot War Party in Council, Mandan

1835-1837 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 5/8 x 27 5/8 in. (49.7 x 70.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.458 Not currently on view


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“This party was made up of the most distinguished and desperate young men of the tribe, who had sallied out against the [Arikara/Sahnish], and taken the most solemn oath amongst themselves never to return without achieving a victory. They had wandered long and faithfully about the country, following the trails of their enemy; when they were attacked by a numerous party, and lost several of their men and all their horses . . . In this plight, it seems, I had dropped my little canoe alongside of them . . . Seated on their buffalo robes, which were spread upon the grass, with their respective weapons laying about them, and lighting their pipes at a little fire which was kindled in the centre---the chief or leader of the party, with his arms stacked behind him, and his long head-dress of war-eagles' quills and ermine falling down over his back, whilst he sat in a contemplative and almost desponding mood, was surely one of the most striking and beautiful illustrations of a natural hero that I ever looked upon.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 20, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ceremony - Indian - War Council

Ethnic - Indian - Mandan

Figure group - male

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added