Indians Travelling, 1850

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In this sentimentalized scene, Seth Eastman bows to an early 19th-century image of Native people as a “vanishing race.” Though he knew Native life well (he even learned the Dakota language), he could not escape his era’s romanticized views. He presented these villagers as quietly stoical, moving across barren land until they all but disappear. For added pathos, Eastman placed focus on the baby swaddled in pink and strapped to the travois, and had the child on horseback give the viewer a farewell glance.

This watercolor, one of 35 works on paper by Eastman in Mia’s collection, was the basis for an illustration in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s massive "Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States" (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1851-57).

Indians Travelling
Artist Life
Accession Number
James J. Hill (St. Paul, 1838-1916); his estate; James Jerome Hill Reference Library St. Paul (by 1921-1994; sold October, to MacMillan); W. Duncan MacMillan, Wayzata (1994-d. 2006); the W. Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation (2006-2014; given to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Seth Eastman: A Portfolio of North American Indians 6
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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