Date of this Version
The first documented Native American art on paper includes the following drawings at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska: In the Winter, 1833-1834 (two versions) by Sih-Chida (Yellow Feather) and Mato-Tope Battling a Cheyenne Chief with a Hatchet (1834) by Mato-Tope (Four Bears) as well as an untitled drawing not previously attributed to the latter. These images were produced and collected during the winter of 1833-1834 when the German Prince Maximilian of Wied and artist Karl Bodmer resided at Fort Clark in North Dakota. These drawings remained with Prince Maximilian’s estate until they were placed on long term loan to the Joslyn museum in 1962.
This thesis investigates how Mandan gender roles for men shaped the drawings and how Prince Maximilian’s view of masculinity influenced his collection of the images. I argue that not only did Mato-Tope and Sih-Chida view their art as relevant to their social standing in their tribe, but they also developed a style that incorporated Western artistic influences. Both George Catlin and Bodmer painted portraits of these Mandan men and possibly could have introduced them to Western elements of design, and such elements permitted Mato-Tope and Sih-Chida to articulate their status as honored warriors in new ways for their visitors and for themselves. Above all, this thesis aims to show how Mato-Tope and Sih-Chida translated their leadership roles in their community to their art.
Advisor: Wendy Katz