Lewis, View of the Great Treaty Held at Prairie du Chien, September 1825
As early as 1803, Thomas Jefferson proposed a policy that later under Andrew Jackson would be called Indian removal. By the 1820s, warfare among American Indian nations was proving troublesome to the U.S. government as the country expanded westward. In 1825, Governor Lewis Cass of the Michigan Territory was commissioned to negotiate peace treaties among the Indians of the Great Lakes region. Between 1825 and 1827, Cass employed James Otto Lewis who made some 250 portraits and related camp sketches during the negotiations. At a time when attitudes toward American Indians were generally hostile, Lewis showed compassion for the tribes’ leaders through his sensitive portrayals.
James Otto Lewis, View of the Great Treaty Held at Prairie du Chien, September 1825, at which upwards of 5000 Indian Warriors of the Chippewa, Sioux, Sacs and Foxes, Winnebago, Potawatomi, Menominee, Ioway, and Ottowa tribes were present. Governor Lewis Cass of Michigan and William Clark of Missouri, Commissioners.Painted on the spot. From The Aboriginal Port-Folio. Lithograph with applied watercolor, 1965.10.1, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.