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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Treaty Signing at Medicine Creek Lodge

Treaty Signing at Medicine Creek Lodge is title of two different drawing by two different artists. John Taylor drew his version in 1867, and Howling Wolf drew his version approximately 8-11 years later. Both are a depiction of the signing of the peace treaty between the United States and the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche Indians. Taylor’s was a formal pen and paper drawing commissioned by Leslie’s Illustrated Gazette. Wolf used a blank accountant ledger, ink, color pencils and crayons to create his. This form was called “ledger” art and was widely used by many Native Americans.

I feel of the two drawings, Taylor’s is much more representative than the more abstract depiction of Wolf’s drawing. However, I am sure many Native Americans would believe Wolf’s piece of art is much more representative.

Another interesting aspect of the two drawings, both illustrate the landscape quite differently. Taylor focuses your attention to the center of the work where the “action” is happening. On the other hand, Wolf’s drawing doesn’t have a central focus. I believe in Taylor’s illustration, he just painted a clearing that could be any clearing. Wolf uses his illustration to more specifically pinpoint the area through the use of the converging waterways, the Medicine Lodge Creek and the Arkansas.

Taylor’s depiction shows a crowded clearing with many white and Indians. I believe this shows that both sides gladly accepted the treaty. In addition, he does not show a difference between the Native Americans saying they are all equals, even though there were several chiefs present. Another interesting point is that there is no women, either Indian or white. I believe this has to do with the era. Women did not have the rights they do today.

Wolf’s illustration is quite the opposite. He shows the clearing only has the important people in the clearing as others look on. I feel those on the outside represent the other people that will be affected. Wolf also depicts the various hierarchies within the tribe through the use of iconography. Wolf also has many women present in his drawing. I believe this displays the fact the Native Americans viewed their women more as equals.

Overall, the two drawings show very different points of view. I feel Taylor’s is very slanted due to the time era it was drawn. Wolf’s is more accurate, but without knowing the iconography of the Native Americans harder to interpret.

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