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Shoo-de-gá-cha, The Smoke, Chief of the Tribe

1832 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. 1985.66.95 Not currently on view


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George Catlin described The Smoke, chief of the Ponca tribe, in his travel accounts: “The chief, who was wrapped in a buffalo robe, is a noble specimen of native dignity and philosophy. I conversed much with him; and from his dignified manners, as well as from the soundness of his reasoning, I became fully convinced that he deserved to be the sachem of a more numerous and prosperous tribe. He related to me with great coolness and frankness, the poverty and distress of his nation; and with the method of a philosopher, predicted the certain and rapid extinction of his tribe, which he had not the power to avert . . . He sat upon the deck of the steamer, overlooking the little cluster of his wigwams mingled amongst the trees; and, like Caius Marius, weeping over the ruins of Carthage, shed tears as he was descanting on the poverty of his ill-fated little community.” The artist painted this image at a Ponca village in 1832, apparently on his voyage up the Missouri River. (Catlin, Letters and Notes , vol. 1, no. 26, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Ponca

Portrait male - Smoke

Portrait male - Smoke - full length

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added