Small oils like this were intended for the lower end of the market and were conceived rapidly and without great care. Perhaps they were even produced by studio helpers.
Peter H. Hassrick
Indian Lodge Occupancy:
In the early nineteenth century, each tipi accommodated, on average, eight to ten adults, and children. Heading east from Fort Vancouver in April 1833, trader Nathanial Wyeth met up with a large ensemble of Flathead where he encountered, “[the] main Camp of 110 Lodges Containing upward of 1000 souls with all of which I had to shake hands.” Wyeth’s instance equates to nine people per tipi.
While large encampments were more typical, Wyeth came across an encampment of just two lodges near Camas Creek, located in what is present-day Idaho, in August 1834. Trapper John Townsend, who traveled with Wyeth’s party, noted that “there are two lodges of them, in all about twenty persons, but none of them presumed to come near us, with the exception of the three men, two squaws, and a few children.”
William Stewart’s Fascination with the Lodge:
William Drummond Stewart often visited or lived in a buffalo-hide tipi during his sojourn in the Rockies. Stewart’s correspondence documents his attempts to add an entire Indian lodge to his collection at Murthly Castle, as well as numerous smaller accoutrements such as bottle gourds "of the best form for dippers, also some large ones for bottles," a wooden bowl, and pipes. Such a souvenir would have been a direct tie to the way of life he enjoyed during his time in the West.
Native American Watercraft:
The boats depicted in this image were most likely either dugout canoes or, perhaps, a hide canoes, sometimes called bull boats. The Nez Perce Indians assisted Lewis and Clark’s expeditionary corps in the construction of several dugout canoes. After the crew chopped down several pine trees, the Indians showed them how to hollow out the trunks with fire and coals rather than the American’s labor-intensive method using hand tools. Lewis and Clark crewmember, Patrick Gass explained, “to save them from hard labour, we have adopted the Indian method of burning out the canoes.”
Regarding a hide canoe, German-born American physician and naturalist, Fredric Wislizenus penned: “These canoes are made in the following manner: Small trunks of some wood that bends easily are split; out of these a boat-shaped frame-work is made with some cross-pieces inside; this is firmly bound with thongs of buffalo leather and willow bark, and all gaps are stopped with withes; and buffalo hides, sewed together, with the hair inside, are stretched as taut as can be over the whole. Then it is dried in the air, and the outside daubed over with a mixture of buffalo tallow and ashes. Our canoe was covered with three buffalo hides, and was about fifteen feet long by a width in the middle of five to six feet.”
Jim Hardee & Clay Landry
For Further Reading:
Hardee, Jim, Obstinate Hope, The Western Expeditions of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, 1832-33
Moulton, Gary E., The Journals of Lewis & Clark
Strong, Lisa, American Indians and Scottish Identity in Sir William Drummond Stewart's Collection
Townsend, John K., Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River
Wisilizenus, Frederic, A Journey to the Rocky Mountains in 1839
Carman H. Messmore [M. Knoedler and Company, New York]; present owner by gift, 1959