Art of the American West
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Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809–1893),
Addíh-Hiddísch, Hidatsa Chief , 1834
watercolor and graphite on paper, 16 9/16 × 11 11/16 in.
Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.388. Photograph © Bruce M. White, 2019
Faces from the Interior: The North American Portraits of Karl Bodmer, is the first Museum project to focus on Bodmer’s watercolor portraits of Indigenous people painted in 1833–34. Numerous Indigenous artists, scholars, and elders from communities that Karl Bodmer and Prince Maximilian visited contributed texts to the exhibition that examine the ongoing challenges and significances of these images of cultural encounter. The exhibition was organized by the Margre H. Durham Center for Western Studies, Joslyn Art Museum, in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As a kid growing up on the Fort Berthold Indian reservation, I loved listening to my grandmother, Ruby Parshall (Good Corn Stalk), tell stories about Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara warriors. Each morning they would dress in their war regalia and, armed with clubs, sit atop the earth lodges waiting for the enemy. I was fascinated by the tattoos covering Addíh-Hiddísch’s (Roadmaker/Old Road’s) face, chest, torso, and right arm that represent conquests and evoke visions and spirits of the ancestors. Tattoos likely would have continued on his left arm and legs, wrapping around his body to encase his heart and covering him from head to toe with stories. A sort of permanent war paint, the tattoos attested to his life as a warrior and showed that he was ready for battle. They also served as a metaphorical body armor, providing strength and protecting him from bullets and arrows, and also from evil spirits.

Zig Jackson, Buffalo Getting up in the Grass (Rising Buffalo)

Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara
Professor Fine Arts, Photography
Savannah College of Art & Design

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