The fur trade caravan included not only Stewart and his entourage, but trappers and traders from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, as well as a number of free trappers and a small party of twenty-five to thirty Native Americans. In this sketch, Miller reiterates a common nineteenth-century stereotype by contrasting the hurried preparations of the trappers in the middle and far distance with the Indians in the foreground, who stand conspicuously and watch. The Indian woman at the lower right is the only figure facing away from the trapper’s labors, as she languorously drapes her arm over her head while leaning on a grazing horse. In his accompanying note, Miller claimed that “the Indian lingers to the last moment around the camp fire,--he neither enters into or sympathizes with our diligence, and seems to regret that stern necessity forces him to accept our company for his convoy.” He links this perception to the myth of Indians as a “vanishing race” by adding that the people traveling with them were Delaware, “an ill-fated tribe [that] has become nearly extinct.”
This version is almost identical in composition to the earlier ink and sepia wash at the Beinecke Library. It is more heavily worked, however, with more detail added to the figures and their wagons. The landscape appears to recede more deeply, and is punctuated by campfires rendered in thick white gouache.
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner