This scene of parting bluffs gives way to a majestic view of Laramie Peak, located just west of Fort Laramie in what was then Oregon Territory along Miller and Stewart’s route to Green River. Laramie Peak was a prominent landmark along the Oregon Trail, signaling to settlers the approach of mountain terrain and rough travel ahead. Historically, this stretch of present-day Wyoming was considered part of the Black Hills, a region of landscape that remains a sacred place to many American Indians, but especially the Lakota, who occupied the area during Miller’s trip west.
Referred to as Paha Sapa, the Black Hills are believed to be the site of cultural birth for the Lakota people. Accumulated over centuries, this site is rife with “‘storied’ places—elaborately woven together on a cultural loom that joins every detail of the landscape within a community of memory.” (Belden, 73) Miller’s depiction is just one more story added on to the landscape, an artistic evocation of place and a repository of the memory of his journey west.
Emily C. Wilson
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift