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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: George Catlin: A'h-sha-la-cóots-ah, Mole in the Forehead, Chief of the Republican Pawnee
A'h-sha-la-cóots-ah, Mole in the Forehead, Chief of the Republican Pawnee


A'h-sha-la-cóots-ah, Mole in the Forehead, Chief of the Republican Pawnee
1832
George Catlin
oil on canvas
29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
1985.66.104

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George Catlin probably painted these images of Pawnee chiefs and warriors at Fort Leavenworth (in today’s Kansas) in 1832. He later described the tribe as: “A very powerful and warlike nation, living on the river Platte, about one hundred miles from its junction with the Missouri; laying claim to, and exercising sway over, the whole country, from its mouth to the base of the Rocky Mountains. The present number of this tribe is ten or twelve thousand; about one half the number they had in 1832, when that most appalling disease, the small-pox, was accidentally introduced amongst them by the Fur Traders, and whiskey sellers; when ten thousand (or more) of them perished in the course of a few months . . . The Pawnees have ever been looked upon, as a very warlike and hostile tribe; and unusually so, since the calamity which I have mentioned.” (Catlin, <i>Letters and Notes</i>, vol. 2, no. 34, 1841; reprint 1973)


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