Ball-play of the ChoctawBall up, 184650
25 3/4 x 32 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Catlin was a big fan of Choctaw lacrosse, which he witnessed in Indian Territory in 1834. He described ball-play as "a school for the painter or sculptor, equal to any of those which ever inspired the hand of the artist in the Olympian games or the Roman forum." Lacrosse was a physical, even violent, game called "little brother of war" in Choctaw that included no-holds-barred scuffling and wrestling as players struggled desperately for the ball.