Miller opens his caption for Snake Indian Camp by misquoting from Edgar Allan Poe’s To One in Paradise. The writer is one who has lost his or her lover and concludes somberly that, “’The Day is past,’—and never more / Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, / Or the stricken eagle soar.” Miller deftly applies the thought to the civilization of the Indians, which he, like the artist George Catlin and others, saw as equally doomed. Still, in this painting he has pictured the Snake Indian culture at its height:
In the foreground of the sketch is an Indian en grande parure [full dress], armed with a bow, spear & targe [shield],–he takes as much care to dress himself for war as a civilized man for a bridal party or ball. To the right of him is a Lodge near the base of which are represented some blood-red hands, these emblems are significant and are produced by dipping their hands in red ochre, and forming them by pressure. Some fishing canoes are seen in the distance. (Ross, 1968, text accompanying plate 160)
This painting is the only known version of Snake Indian Camp, suggesting that Miller might have created the scene especially for the Walters commission.