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Rainmaking among the Mandan

1837-1839 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 1/2 x 27 in. (49.5 x 68.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.476 Not currently on view

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George Catlin was fascinated by the Mandan medicine men “performing their mysteries” and particularly noted the young men who “volunteer to stand upon the lodge from sunrise until sundown, in turn, commanding it to rain. Each one has to hazard the disgrace which attaches (when he descends at sundown) to a fruitless attempt; and he who succeeds acquires a lasting reputation as a Mystery or Medicine man.” (Catlin, 1848 Catalogue, Catlin’s Indian Gallery, SAAM online exhibition)


Architecture Exterior - domestic - hut

Ceremony - Indian - Rain Ceremony

Ethnic - Indian - Mandan

Figure group


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added