Indian Sugar Camp, 1849-1855

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Seth Eastman may have observed this scene on Nicollet Island, in present-day Minneapolis, which was covered in maple trees and home to several sugar camps. He depicts the hard work required to transform maple sap into sugar: chopping, pouring, hauling, stirring. There was also tasting -- including by a naked baby! A detail at left shows sap dripping into a container, the first step before it heads to the kettles for boiling into syrup. This is evidently the first time this activity was recorded by a non-Native person.

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).

Indian Sugar Camp
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 26
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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