|A few years later, the former prisoners were transformed. From left: John W. Okestehi, Cheyenne; Henry Pratt Taawayite, Comanche; Paul C. Zotom, Kiowa; Edward Etahdleuh, Kiowa; and David Pendelton, Cheyenne.
Two years ago, when senior art-history majors curated an exhibit on the Carlisle Indian School, they discovered that Dickinson possessed two very important pieces of paper. Recognizing that they had uncovered something special, Phillip Earenfight, director of The Trout Gallery, began coordinating one of most important exhibits at Dickinson in years. The exhibit, A Kiowa’s Odyssey, will open this fall, hit the road in 2008, and close at Yale University.
Key to the exhibit are those two rare pages. They turned out to be part of a 32-page sketchbook created in 1875 by Etadleuh Doanmoe, a Kiowa Indian. A Kiowa’s Odyssey depicts, chronologically, the capture of 72 Plains Indians at Fort Sill, Okla., and their transfer to Fort Marion, Fla.
Lt. Richard Henry Pratt, a combination jailer and teacher to the captive Indians, was a prominent figure in and eventual recipient of Doanmoe’s sketchbook. His goal was to “civilize” his charges. The inside covers of the sketchbook contain rare before-and-after pictures of the captives that illustrate the dramatic impact of Pratt’s program. The results of the experience at Fort Marion prompted Pratt to open the Carlisle Indian School in 1879.
After his death, Pratt’s personal records were “deposited at Yale University where they could be a research resource,” Earenfight says. “Part of the sketchbook was left in Carlisle. This exhibit will reunite everything.”
A Kiowa’s Odyssey will open at The Trout Gallery Sept. 7 and run through Jan. 12, 2008, showcasing the entire sketchbook. At the same time, the Cumberland County Historical Society will exhibit Carlisle Indian School drawings, and the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center will show artifacts associated with the Plains Indian Wars. Together, the three shows will present part of the complex history of Native Americans in the United States.
Earenfight originally wanted to take the sketchbook on the road to Fort Sill and Fort Marion, the two key locations in its conception, but since facilities were unavailable, he got as close as possible.
The Gilcrease Museum of the Americas in Tulsa, Okla., and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla., will display the sketchbook in winter and spring 2008, respectively. The final show will be at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.
Earenfight was lead author of the exhibition catalog, in collaboration with Janet Berlo from the University of Rochester and Brad Lookingbill from Columbia College.
“The catalog will, for the first time at Dickinson, be printed by an outside publisher, the University of Washington Press,” Earenfight explains.
Another component of the exhibit is an educational CD directed toward middle- and high-school students.
“The content of the CD will be available on the Web, so it will live a much longer life than the exhibit,” Earenfight says.
A free symposium this September will increase the exhibit’s national scope—bringing to Dickinson experts from around the country, including the Smithsonian Institution.
“Unlike any other show, this focuses on objects in our own collection,” Earenfight says. “Plus, we’re bringing to light the relationships among these disparate places.”