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Eanger Irving Couse
Elk-Foot of the Taos Tribe
1909
oil
78 1/4 x 36 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William T. Evans



Couse photographed and painted Elk-Foot numerous times. For this portrait of the proud Taos Indian, the artist borrowed a Plains Indian symbol of courage and valor, the “coup stick.” Carried during battle, the coup stick is used to strike an opponent. The first brave to strike the body of an enemy with this stick receives the scalp, whether he or another has made the kill. Elk-Foot's red blanket was made from fabric imported from the textile manufacturing region of Gloucestershire, England, while the moccasins were accessories from Couse's studio. This nostalgic portrait reveals the physical beauty, ideal features, and majestic bearing of Indian peoples.