Gilcrease Museum is temporarily closed for construction.

Get the Full Story

Trail of Tears / Brummett Echohawk


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.

You may be interested in...

Trail of Tears
Brummett Echohawk (Artist)
Native American; Pawnee
tempera on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.485mm grey colored paper. Even distribution of fibers in transmitted light. Cut to size.
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
TL1958; 0227.1487; 18283
Not On View

Our Online Collections site is a work in progress. If you have information about this item that may be of assistance, please contact us.