Art of the American West
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Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809–1893),
Schudegácheh, Ponca Chief , 1833
graphite, charcoal, ink, and watercolor on paper , 11 7/8 × 8 1/2 in.
Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.241. 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.

I descend from Schuh-De-Gá-Che, known as Chief Smokemaker, Smoke or Old Smoke, who was one of the Ponca Chiefs that signed the Treaty of 1817 between the Ponca and the United States, intended to create perpetual peace and friendship between the two sovereigns. While Schuh-De-Gá-Che is shown in the Bodmer painting wearing a peace medal he received from the United States to honor that commitment, as history reflects, perpetual peace for the Poncas was not to be. My ancestor represents the resilience of our People, who survived forced removal and termination. That against all odds, we are still here today. To honor our ancestors’ sacrifices we must never forget that our actions today will impact seven generations into the future.

Judi Gaiashkibos
Ponca Tribal Member
Descendent of Schuh-De-Gá-Che (Smokemaker)

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