Peh-tó-pe-kiss, Eagle's Ribs, a Piegan Chief

  • George Catlin, Peh-tó-pe-kiss, Eagle's Ribs, a Piegan Chief, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.152

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“This man is one of the extraordinary men of the Blackfoot tribe; though not a chief, he stands here in the Fort, and deliberately boasts of eight scalps, which he says he has taken from the heads of trappers and traders with his own hand. His dress is really superb, almost literally covered with scalp-locks, of savage and civil. I have painted him at full length, with a head-dress made entirely of ermine skins and horns of the buffalo. This custom of wearing horns beautifully polished and surmounting the head-dress, is a very curious one, being worn only by the bravest of the brave; by the most extraordinary men in the nation . . . When he stood for his picture, he also held a lance and two ‘medicine-bags’ in his hand.” This portrait, painted at Fort Union, bears a certificate signed by the Indian agent John Sanford. George Catlin called upon fur traders, army officials, and government Indian agents to certify the accuracy of his pictures, an important testimonial for the artist who insisted that the value of his work lay in its authenticity. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 5, 1841; reprint 1973)

Peh-tó-pe-kiss, Eagle's Ribs, a Piegan Chief
29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Ethnic – Indian – Blackfoot
  • Dress – ethnic – Indian dress
  • Portrait male – Eagle's Ribs
  • Ethnic – Indian – Piegan
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