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Comanche Meeting the Dragoons, 1834–35
24 x 29 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, mandating that the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes abandon their homes in the southeastern states and move to Indian Territory, the eastern half of what is now the state of Oklahoma. They suffered great privation and loss of life on the journey west, which the Cherokee called the Trail of Tears, and they found more trouble on their arrival in Indian Territory. Tensions flared between the indigenous tribes and newcomers. By 1834, a troop of United States Dragoons (cavalry) was sent from Fort Gibson near present-day Tulsa to summon the Comanche and neighboring tribes to a peace council. Catlin trekked with the expedition in the killing summer heat across what is now Oklahoma to the Wichita Mountains.

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