Miller made a number of sketches of what he considered to be daily life of various Indian tribes at the rendezvous. This scene of a Shoshone woman pursuing horses required an explanation: “As a general thing, women who are expert in throwing the Lasso secure the horses in the evening,” he wrote in a caption, but “some [horses] are so wild that it is impossible to catch them without resorting to the rope.” Then, the woman may take to “the field (as in the present case)” in pursuit. “She is seated on a high demi-pique saddle, the pommel of which rises eighteen inches, the cantle twelve, and her feet rest in broad wooden stirrups. Mounted in this way she cannot well be unhorsed, while her long experience in catching tame horses is now brought into requisition. Her greatest danger is, after throwing the rope, to meet the strain, and this difficulty is met by giving her a well-trained horse.” (Bell, 1973, p. 38)
One end of the lariat was fastened to the pommel, “the other end is coiled with the noose in her hand. The sketch represents her in the act of throwing the lariat, and from inexperience, she makes several ineffectual throws, before the intention is accomplished.
“The fact of her requiring a saddle, however, fixes on her an indelible disgrace in the eyes of the male Indian,--who regards such effeminacy with contempt,” he concluded. (Ross, 1968, text accompanying plate 137)
This small painting might have been Miller’s field sketch for this subject.
The artist; by descent to Mrs. Laurence R. Carton; [M. Knoedler and Company, New York, NY, 1965]; present owner