Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien

  • George Catlin, Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien, 1835-1836, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.430

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George Catlin witnessed Choctaw lacrosse in Indian Territory in 1834, but a year later, at Prairie du Chien in today’s Wisconsin, Catlin saw and recorded the Eastern Sioux/Dakota version of ball-play. He later described the game: “In the ball-play of the women, they have two balls attached to the ends of a string, about a foot and a half long; and each woman has a short stick in each hand, on which she catches the string with the two balls, and throws them, endeavoring to force them over the goal of her own party.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 52, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)

Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien
On View
19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (49.7 x 70.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Recreation – sport and play – ball
  • Ethnic – Indian – Dakota
  • Landscape – Wisconsin – Prairie du Chien
  • Ethnic – Indian – Sioux
  • Figure group – female
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI