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White Swan muslin cutting / White Swan


This watercolor, ink, and graphite work on muslin was painted by White Swan, a Crow war hero; however, it appears to have been cut from a larger coup-count painting, as White Swan himself is not depicted. Indigenous peoples in the Northern Plains practiced storytelling through figurative painting for centuries. Crow wartime records such as coup counts and battle narratives were painted by the warriors who had participated in combat. The battle narrative here features late nineteenth-century Apsáalooke warriors on horseback as they encounter a number of opponents, including warriors from other tribes and the U.S. Cavalry. The figures are arranged in combat scenes, with each encounter depicting both the tribulations and the victories of a particular moment during war. While there is no ground or background, White Swan has arranged the battle spatially in a series of sequences that situate individual Apsáalooke warriors in time. On the left, four painted tipis representing family homes line the edge of the battleground.

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

This text was developed from an interview with Field Museum curator Nina Sanders (Apsáalooke) by Jordan Poorman Cocker, January 25, 2021

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White Swan muslin cutting; War Record
White Swan (Artist)
Native American; Apsáalooke (Crow)
late 19th century
watercolor, ink and graphite on muslin
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0226.589; 36942
Not On View

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