This is a crisp, beautifully-lighted scene of an Osage, Omaha, or possibly a Pawnee earth lodge village. Miller, who produced at least three versions of this watercolor, never identified what tribe inhabited this town, though in the title of two versions he suggests that the community is situated on the banks of the Missouri River. According to Miller, the front-most earth lodge was the “grand council chamber” in which community activities occur and leaders “harangue their people.” (Ross, 94)
The building on the left was a non-earthen, probably bark-clad lodge known as a longhouse. It too may have served as a gathering place for the people rather than a family or clan residence. Miller pictured people seated on top of the large buildings and commented that the structures provided vantage points for village citizens and, in time of drought, a platform for medicine men to take their station “to implore the ‘Great Spirit’ for rain.” (Ross, 94).
Peter H. Hassrick