Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup
Search
MENU

3 / History and Memory

Stu-mick-o-súcks, Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat, head chief, Blood Tribe
Stu-mick-o-súcks, Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat, head chief, Blood Tribe
Artist / Origin George Catlin (American, 1796–1872)
Region: North America
Date 1832
Material Oil on canvas
Medium: Painting
Dimensions H: 29 in. (73.7 cm.), W: 24 in. (60.9 cm.)
Location Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Credit Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY

expert perspective

Barbara ThompsonCurator for the Arts of Africa and the Americas, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Stu-mick-o-súcks, Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat, head chief, Blood Tribe

» George Catlin (American, 1796–1872)

expert perspective

Barbara Thompson Barbara Thompson Curator for the Arts of Africa and the Americas, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

As always in our own histories, we send our own people out to document the history of others and certainly Catlin or Edward Curtis—at different points in time, but certainly both of them—were capturing images and using images of native peoples to educate American society about these so called ‘dying races’ and some cases ‘the noble savage.’ Both of them were presenting a very romantic view of that moment in history and a very romantic view of the quintessential native—not looking at and not presenting the nuances of native life and native identities that existed. But, of course, nobody, or a very few people, in Western society questioned the truths behind those images or the validity, never really thought about it or considered how staged some of these were, and just even the inaccuracies of staging or inaccuracies of identity in some of Catlin’s paintings that he might identify somebody with a name or a given cultural affiliation which was wrong.” 

back