George Catlin, born Wilkes-Barre, PA 1796-died Jersey City, NJ 1872
oil on canvas
21 3/4 x 16 3/4 in. (55.3 x 42.5 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
George Catlin described Seneca Steele as having a “hatchet in his hand.” The artist probably took this portrait in Washington, in February 1831. (Catlin, 1848 Catalogue, Catlin’s Indian Gallery, SAAM online exhibition)
Oscar Howe (Mazuha Hokshina), Yanktonnai Nakota, 1915-1983
Paper, watercolor, ink
30.1 x 45.2 cm
South Dakota; USA
Part of a series of paintings commissioned by Dr. Oscar Brousse Jacobson (1882-1966, artist, scholar, Native art patron, and director of the University of Oklahoma's School of Art from 1915 to 1954) for "North American Indian Costumes, 1564-1950," a book by Oscar B. Jacobson and Oscar Howe and published by Editions d'Art C. Szwedzicki. Nice, France, 1952. The original paintings were purchased by MAI from Dr. Jacobson before 1966.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Blacksnake, a Seneca/Six Nations chief, was one of the few Indian leaders who remained on the American side in the War of 1812, fighting in several battles on the Niagara frontier.
Although Seneca soldiers were honorably mustered out, the War of 1812 was a disaster for American Indians. They suffered major defeats at Horseshoe Bend and the loss of their most gifted leader, Tecumseh. The Treaty of Ghent promised them peace, "to restore . . . all . . . [their] possessions, rights, and privileges," but Britain’s abandonment of Indian allies after the war ended its ability to resist an expanding America.