Ambrotype of Mea-to-sa-bi-tchi-a, or Smutty Bear

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Description
This ambrotype portrait of Mea-to-sa-bi-tchi-a, or Smutty Bear, a Yankton Dakota, is among the first photographic images of Native Americans. Smutty Bear was part of a large Native American delegation that came to Washington, D.C., during the winter of 1857–;58. Under duress, members of the delegation signed a treaty that greatly reduced their lands in return for promises of money and provisions that were never fulfilled. This prompted the Sioux Revolt of 1862, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of settlers and the mass hangings of 38 Native Americans. This photograph is one of a series a of portrait daguerreotypes made of Native American chiefs while they crossed the country to meet with US Government officials in Washington, D.C. When passing through St. Louis, Missouri, these chiefs were photographed by Thomas Easterly and John Fitzgibbons.
The ambrotype process, most popular in the mid-1850s, is a wet-plate collodion emulsion on glass. These images were then placed in cases with a dark lining for best viewing.
Location
Currently not on view
Date made
ca 1858
depicted
Mea-to-sa-bi-tchi-a
Place Made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
Associated Place
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
glass (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 11 cm x 8.5 cm x .8 cm; 4 5/16 in x 3 3/8 in x 5/16 in
ID Number
PG.3974.07
accession number
121824
catalog number
3974.07
subject
Native Americans
related event
Sioux Revolt of 1862
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Photography
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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