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Kotz-a-tó-ah, Smoked Shield, a Distinguished Warrior

1834 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. 1985.66.63 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing

Luce Center Label

George Catlin described Smoked Shield as “another of the extraordinary men of this tribe [Kiowa], near seven feet in stature, and distinguished, not only as one of the greatest warriors, but the swiftest on foot, in the nation. This man, it is said, runs down a buffalo on foot, and slays it with his knife or his lance, as he runs by its side!” Smoked Shield’s most notable accessory is his shield, made of the heaviest part of a buffalo hide and smoked over a campfire to make it even tougher. Smoked Shield is draped with what appears to be a trade blanket, perhaps due to a shortage of buffalo robes caused by depletion of the southern herds through over-hunting. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 43, 1841, reprint 1973; Gurney and Heyman, eds., George Catlin and His Indian Gallery, 2002)


Ethnic - Indian - Kiowa

Portrait male - Smoked Shield


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added