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Trail of Tears / Brummett Echohawk, March 3, 1922 - February 6, 2006, Native American; Pawnee (Artist)

Essay/Description

Trail of Tears by Brummett Echohawk (Pawnee) depicts the brutal forced removal of the Pawnee Nation from ancestral homelands (in the region of present-day Nebraska) to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and his compelling historical rendering brings past events into the present. The Jacksonian era (1829–1837) in American history created a hostile and unlivable environment for Indigenous American nations, during which “a determination to expand geographically and economically, imposing an alien will upon subject peoples and commandeering their resources”1 led to the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and subsequent legislation connected to settler-colonial issues. A new national American identity based on Manifest Destiny was imagined in the wake of this theft of land and natural resources.2

Echohawk’s formative World War II service in the 45th Infantry Division gave him personal experience of the impacts of war. This lived experience, coupled with intergenerational Pawnee knowledge, provides context for this complex artist’s impression of the Trail of Tears. His painting illuminates the faces of Pawnee women, children, and men as well as the profound loss and hardship the Pawnee Nation endured.

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

This text was developed from an interview with author and attorney Walter Echohawk, nephew of Brummett Echohawk, by Jordan Poorman Cocker, June 21, 2021

_____________________________
1 Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 421.
2 Stephanson, Manifest Destiny.

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Title(s): 
Trail of Tears
Creator(s): 
Brummett Echohawk, March 3, 1922 - February 6, 2006, Native American; Pawnee (Artist)
Culture: 
Native American; Pawnee
Date: 
1957
Materials/Techniques: 
ink wash on paper
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
02.1487
Previous Number(s): 
0227.1487; 18283
Department: 
Signed by hand in ink, "Echohawk. 1957" in lower right on recto; Printed card with text, "Echohawk. Pawnee Artist P.O. Box 1922 Tulsa, Oklahoma Western Illustrator" adhered in center on verso.
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