Saturday, November 12, 2011

Native American Man

The following visual interpretation was taken from The Library of Congress. It dates from 1859.

For a few reasons it seems difficult to accept much accuracy from this image. The connotations it brings are quite important though. In terms of it's accuracy, the clothes seem to be far too bright in colour. They seem to have been enhanced and as a consequence, are more European, or British even. His clothes are royal blue and red in colour, when they would much more likely to be a beige. Wi Jun Jon by George Catlin demonstrated more clearly what the attire specifically looked like. This is most definitely, an interpretation.

So why is he made more appealing to the eyes of the British? It may be so that they have a better level of understanding or empathy even, the artist may be trying to draw on this. He has his weapon in his left hand, as it was known at the time, archers would hold their bow in their left hand as well. It may be that the artist is attempting to gain respect from the viewer, by making him seem more civil, more European, more like them. The Native American man looks desolate and he is viewing the rest of the land around him in sorrow. He is also stood in quite a noble and territorial stance. If you look to the background, the village people are being assaulted. Why is the Native American man not doing anything?

He looks proud and noble but the overall feelings is that he does not wish to do anything about it. He does not look as though he is angry, worried or panicking. He actually looks calm and sad, its as though the message the image is giving is that; we, the Native Americans are being made to move on or die and fine, we will not fight against this. An image like this, where the focus is of comparatively less violence than the image by John Gast, American Progress for example, can actually provide a larger impact on the viewer and a greater feeling of empathy. I believe this is why the image of the man has been interpreted in the way it has.

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