In Indian Giving Information of a Party Who have passed in Advance by Impressions Left on the Ground, Miller portrays an Indian man looking down at the ground, presumably reading wagon tracks or hoof-prints for Stewart and Antoine. The signs to which he gestures with his right hand are obscured by his shadow, and the ground around him shows only a few scattered stones and striations. The opacity of his process gives the image an air of mystery which is alluded to in the title of later versions of this image, The Indian Oracle. (CR# 87B) Undaunted, Stewart leans down in the direction that the man points, as if he is not only listening to his answer, but trying to learn the method of decoding signs himself.
Miller places Stewart in the center of the composition and in the middle of the line which traces the flow of information from the head of the Indian man, across the gun in Stewart’s lap to Antoine’s gun, and off the edge of the page. As he does in all of the images about information exchange, Stewart literally and figuratively plays the role of the middle-man who gathers information from the Indians and relays it to interested whites in his own caravan.
UL: 42. UR: An Indian giving information of a party who have passed in advanced by impressions left on the ground.—
The artist; Sir William Drummond Stewart, 1839; Frank Nichols Stewart; [Chapman’s Edinburgh, 1871]; Bonamy Mansell Power; willed to Edward Power, 1900; by descent to Major G.H. Power, Great Yarmouth England; ; [Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, NY, 1966]; Eugene B. Adkins, Tulsa OK; present owner