Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien

Media - 1985.66.430 - SAAM-1985.66.430_1 - 81536
Copied George Catlin, Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien, 1835-1836, oil on canvas, 19 5827 12 in. (49.770.0 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.430
Free to use

Artwork Details

Ball-play of the Women, Prairie du Chien
19 5827 12 in. (49.770.0 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Group
  • Figure group — female
  • Recreation — sport and play — ball
  • Indian — Dakota
  • Landscape — Wisconsin — Prairie du Chien
  • Indian — Sioux
Object Number

Artwork Description

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)