Making Medicine, Cheyenne

"Inspection of Indian Prisoners,
Fort Marion, Fla.," (1876-77)

pencil and colored pencil 8.50 x 11 in

Like writing, drawing was encouraged among those imprisoned at Fort Marion. From the point of view of the military wardens, teachers, and clergy, this picking up of pencils to draw on paper must have appeared as another sign of the success of conversion from savage to civilized. The drawings, however, were more complex than that. In them and in the very act of making them, the imprisoned warriors could, with images, begin to interpret the specifics of their condition. They could experiment with who they were becoming and they would, literally "possessed by an image," work through the trauma of the present and recent past. Scores of these books were made between 1875 and 1878, the years of the men's incarceration. They were sold to tourists for two dollars apiece.