Beggar's Dance, 1849-1855

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This event is a serious fundraiser. Pulsing with purpose, the group performs and cajoles to get the audience to contribute goods to those in need—hence the name "Beggar’s Dance." In some communities, giving away one’s belongings demonstrated great depth of spirit and generosity. Could the pile at right be donations' Helping to rally excitement are the feather-lined standard and the feather bustles tied around the dancers’ waists. This traditional regalia invoked the power of birds and added a kinetic element to the dance.

This watercolor, one of 35 works on paper by Seth 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).

Beggar's Dance
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 19
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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