Other painters of Indians, especially the Washington, D.C.-based army officer and artist Seth Eastman, had been recreating images of Indian councils since at least the early 1850s. One exquisite watercolor was published in the second volume of Henry Schoolcraft’s monumental treatise, Indian Tribes of the United States, in 1854 and another version, a large oil, had been completed by 1852. (Hassrick, 1984, 31) Miller was probably familiar with both of these works which predate this drawing, but he drew his inspiration from his own sketch of Snake Indians at the 1837 rendezvous (CR# 176). This watercolor is probably, in turn, the preliminary sketch for the Walters commission, Indian Council (CR# 175).
Miller was impressed with what he saw of the democratic process in action among the Snake Indians on the Green River. The practice of public oration was especially venerated in Miller’s day, and Indians were considered masters of the art. (Ross, 127)
Peter H. Hassrick
The artist; [?]; Mae Reed Porter, Kansas City, MO; InterNorth Art Foundation, Omaha, NE; present owner