Kee-món-saw, Little Chief, a Chief, 1830
29 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Little Chief, a Kaskaskia, was one of Catlin's first subjects in the West. Little Chief was not, however, a member of a western tribe, as his dark suit, white shirt, and cravat suggest. Well before Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, the government had entered the business of removing eastern tribes from their ancestral lands to reservations west of the Mississippi. The Kaskaskia had already ceded their land in Illinois and were living south of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, when Catlin made his first western tour in 1830. Catlin described Little Chief as "half-civilized, and, I should think, half-breed," the result of more than a century of contact between the Kaskaskia and European traders.