Shoo-de-gá-cha, The Smoke, Chief of the Tribe

  • George Catlin, Shoo-de-gá-cha, The Smoke, Chief of the Tribe, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.95

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George Catlin described The Smoke, chief of the Ponca tribe, in his travel accounts: “The chief, who was wrapped in a buffalo robe, is a noble specimen of native dignity and philosophy. I conversed much with him; and from his dignified manners, as well as from the soundness of his reasoning, I became fully convinced that he deserved to be the sachem of a more numerous and prosperous tribe. He related to me with great coolness and frankness, the poverty and distress of his nation; and with the method of a philosopher, predicted the certain and rapid extinction of his tribe, which he had not the power to avert . . . He sat upon the deck of the steamer, overlooking the little cluster of his wigwams mingled amongst the trees; and, like Caius Marius, weeping over the ruins of Carthage, shed tears as he was descanting on the poverty of his ill-fated little community.” The artist painted this image at a Ponca village in 1832, apparently on his voyage up the Missouri River. (Catlin, Letters and Notes , vol. 1, no. 26, 1841; reprint 1973)

Title
Shoo-de-gá-cha, The Smoke, Chief of the Tribe
Artist
Date
1832
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Portrait male – Smoke – full length
  • Ethnic – Indian – Ponca
  • Portrait male – Smoke
  • Dress – ethnic – Indian dress
Object Number
1985.66.95
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI