Artists George Catlin and Karl Bodmer Record Visit to People of the Upper Missouri
Upper Missouri, 1832–34
Two artists traveled north from St. Louis on the Missouri to visit the native people living in earthlodge villages and in tents near fur trading forts.
Swiss-born Karl Bodmer accompanied German Prince Maximilian zu Wied in 1833-1834. Bodmer, like Catlin, painted himself into one of his works. He is the shorter of the men being introduced to Minnetaree (Hidatsa) chiefs at Fort Clark. Among the dozens of paintings he did on the trip was the bison dance of the Mandan before the medicine lodge of their village on the Missouri and a young Blackfeet girl being raised among the Assiniboins near Fort Union.
Bodmer became friends with many of the leaders during his stay at Fort Clark and the Mandan village nearby. During his long winter stay, he gave painting lessons to Sih-Chida (the Yellow Feather), a friend of Four Bears.
Sih-Chida dressed himself in Four Bears’ war bonnet in his self-portrait. Bodmer painted his art student with an otter skin shawl. Chief Mato-Tope presented Bodmer a copy of his buffalo robe painting on which he depicted some of his heroic deeds.
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.