The sensuous qualities of the four young women relaxing in the shade in the earlier version of this sketch (CR# 475A) are here tempered in several ways. One of the women now tends an infant in a cradleboard, while a second stands holding the horses. Although one remains in the odalisque pose, they are no longer in a shady glen, and the caravan is placed much further away, minimizing the sense that the women are waiting for the men to arrive.
Miller’s note focuses not on the scene at hand, but on the treatment of women by Indian men. Miller repeats a common misconception based on the different types of manual labor performed by white and Indian women. According to Miller, Indian women were “beasts of burden,” “mere ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water.’” Miller concludes that white American society is superior to Indian society on this basis: “Indeed the rise and progress of [civilization] may be graduated by the estimation in which women are held, and her appreciation as a companion and faithful friend of man…” In fact, most Plains societies were matrilineal, and Plains women enjoyed better property and marriage rights than their white counterparts.
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift