A Kiowa Warrior's Drawings of Captivity and Assimilation, 1877

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Feb. 27 2013 12:30 PM

A Kiowa Warrior's Drawings of Captivity and Assimilation, 1877

The Vault is Slate's new history blog. Like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter @slatevault; find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

These drawings are by Etahdleuh Doanmoe, a Kiowa man who was captured by the U.S. Army in Oklahoma in 1875 and was one of a group of leaders who were selected for removal in order to crush the Southern Plains tribes' resistance to confinement to reservations. Doanmoe and seventy-one other Arapaho, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Caddo, and Comanche Indians were taken to St. Augustine, Fla., where they were imprisoned at Fort Marion for three years. The men were taught English, dressed in Western clothes, and taught to forsake their former traditions.

The Doanmoe drawings, now held in part at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and in part at Dickinson College, chronicle this journey in a style at once spare and detailed. The typed captions above the drawings come from Richard Henry Pratt, the Army officer who was in charge of the Indians at Fort Marion, and who later founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Taken together, the images and their captions represent two perspectives: that of a captive forced to move from one world to another, and that of the man who was trying to transform him.

Advertisement

The drawings are part of a larger genre called ledger art, which Plains tribes practiced during the second half of the nineteenth century. The tribes once painted stories about significant tribal and personal events on buffalo hide. With the diminishment of buffalo herds and the tribes' restriction to reservations, artists began to paint on sheets of ledger paper. (You can browse through other examples of these ledgers here.)

According to Kathleen McWeeney, whose extensive history of the Doanmoe sketches can be found here, Pratt initially disapproved of the captives’ desire to make ledger art while at Ft. Marion. Eventually, he decided to permit the practice, but brought in Western artists to teach the prisoners perspective and composition. He also asked that they forsake tribal symbols. Despite this, the Doanmoe drawings contain a few images of banquets and buffalo hunts.

Doanmoe eventually attended both the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and Carlisle, then became a Presbyterian missionary and returned to the Kiowa reservation. He died in 1888, at the age of 32.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Why Not Just Turn Campus Rape Allegations Over to the Police? Because the Police Don't Investigate.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.