The subject of this portrait is Si-Roc-U-An-Tua, a young Snake Indian man who Miller met at the Rendezvous. Miller seems to have been quite impressed by this young man, noting, “His bearing was that of a prince, courageous, self reliant, and dignified.” He goes on to compare Si-Roc-U-An-Tua to the “spirit of Independence” as extolled by Tobias Smollett in his lyric poem, “Ode to Independence” (1777). Miller includes the introduction to Smollett’s poem in his Rough Draught 45:
Thy spirit Independence, let me share,
Lord of the lion-heart and eagle eye,
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.
Si-Roc-U-An-Tua must have had a commanding presence to inspire such a comparison.
Karen B. McWhorter