Protecting the Cornfields from Vermin, 1849-1855

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U.S. Army Captain Seth Eastman was a trained artist who served twice on the frontier at Minnesota’s Fort Snelling, from 1830 to 1832 and again from 1841 to 1848. His extensive firsthand, peaceful encounters with Native Americans gave him extraordinary opportunities to observe their customs and practices, which he documented in his art. This moonlit scene is based not on observation, however, but on a written account.

The watercolor belongs to a series that he made between 1849 and 1855 to illustrate Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s six-volume survey, "Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States" (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1851-57). Mia’s 35 watercolors and drawings for the project represent an astounding array of subjects: muskrat hunting, fish spearing, pest control, rice gathering, maple sugaring, shelter, travel, medicine, mourning, dancing, civics, and topography. With such variety and Eastman’s well-informed clarity of depiction, they constitute an unparalleled visual account of native ways in our region.

Protecting the Cornfields from Vermin
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 25
Curator Approved

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