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.

Blackfeet-Assiniboin girl and Chan-Cha-Uia-Teuin, Teton Sioux Woman, painted on June 1, 1833, at Fort Pierre by Karl Bodmer.  Courtesy of the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.

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.

Sih-Chida, Mandan Man, and Mahchi-Karahide by Karl Bodmer.  Courtesy of the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.

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.

Catlin Dining with Mah-to-toh-pa (Four Bears), Mandan Chief, July 183, at the Mandan Village, Upper Missouri.  George Catlin, artist.  From Letters and Notes on . . . North American Indians, Catlin.  Courtesy of State Historical Society of North Dakota 15084.

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.

opy of a buffalo robe painted by Mato-Tope and other utensils by Karl Bodmer.  Courtesy of the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.



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.

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change

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