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George Catlin
Tcha-aés-ka-ding, Grandson of Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, 1832
29 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

“The grandson also of this sachem, a boy of six years of age, and too young as yet to have acquired a name, has stood forth like a tried warrior; and I have painted him at full length, with his bow and quiver slung, and his robe made of a raccoon skin. The history of this child is somewhat curious and interesting; his father is dead, and in case of the death of the chief … he becomes hereditary chief of the tribe. This boy has been twice stolen away by the Crows by ingenious stratagems, and twice re-captured by the Blackfeet, at considerable sacrifice of life, and at present he is lodged with Mr. M'Kenzie, for safekeeping and protection, until he shall arrive at the proper age to take the office to which he is to succeed” (Letters and Notes, vol. 1, p. 30, pl. 12).

Painted at Fort Union in 1832. The true proportions of such a diminutive figure were still beyond Catlin's reach, but the appealing roundness of the little boy effectively conveys his age. The face and figure in the Gilcrease portrait are only a stylized approximation of the original.

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