Indian Medas Secretly Showing the Contents of their Medicine Sacks to Each Other, 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. He became known as the “pictorial historian of the Indian.” This watercolor belongs to a series that he made between 1849 and 1855 to illustrate Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s massive 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.

Details
Title
Indian Medas Secretly Showing the Contents of their Medicine Sacks to Each Other
Artist Life
1808–1875
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2014.31.32
Provenance
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 28
Curator Approved

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