Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: Painting the Dakota: Seth Eastman at Fort Snelling (by Marybeth Lorbiecki) : WW

Originally published on Published Online: August 12, 2001 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Painting the Dakota: Seth Eastman at Fort Snelling, by Marybeth Lorbiecki, Afton Historical Society Press, Afton, Minn., 2000, $14.95.

At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Seth Eastman was at the top of his class in drawing, and when 2nd Lt. Eastman came to Fort Snelling, a frontier fort in Minnesota, in 1830, he found time to sketch–and time for love. He married Wakaninajinwin, the daughter of a Dakota (Eastern Sioux, sometimes called the Santee Sioux) chief. Eastman left Company I, 1st Infantry Regiment, the fort, his wife and his daughter (Winona, or Nancy) behind in January 1832 to join the Topographical Corps. A year later he was assigned to teach drawing back at West Point, where he found love again and married a white woman, Mary Henderson. But he would return to Fort Snelling, and he would not forget what he knew about the Dakota Indians. No artist in America knew more.

After fighting Seminoles in Florida, Eastman, now a captain, was transferred in the summer of 1841 back to Fort Snelling, where he was able to further study the Dakotas and to sketch and paint them. He set up a studio right in the fort and began documenting on canvas the traditional ways of the Dakota people (and sometimes the Ojibwa Indians, too). He remained there until reassigned to Texas in September 1848. By then his illustrations had been published in his wife Mary's book Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux, and soon he would become the illustrator for Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's six-volume study on the Indians of the United States. In April 1857, Eastman was sent back to Fort Snelling to survey the lands and sell the fort, since the Dakotas had been moved to reservations. Eastman spent his last years in Washington, D.C., painting Indian scenes and American forts, among other things. He died on August 31, 1875.

Painting the Dakota tells the moving story of the artist and his families and is accompanied by more than 45 drawings and paintings, many of which were based on sketches Eastman had made in Minnesota. A descendant of Wakaninajinwin (Stands Sacred) and Seth Eastman, Lorei K. Crowchild says in the foreword that many other descendants "continue to live in and around Dakota communities in Minnesota and South Dakota." And Seth Eastman's artwork continues to have a life of its own. As Marybeth Lorbiecki points out in this nicely written little book (104 pages): "By capturing what he saw, Seth Eastman created a record in pictures unlike anyone else's. No other painter of Indians left behind such realistic snapshots of the 'Sioux' and life before reservations."

Chrys Ankeny

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy