…you could see that there’s a buffalo painted on his chest and on his face. And he sits there in complete comfort with this…
“And I remember looking at Buffalo Bull, a Grand Pawnee warrior named La-dóo-ke-a. I tried to imagine the distance, the connection, the bridges. And I was standing in front of this man, this painting, as Catlin did.
“I could see the power, the power invested in this image. And I can imagine that Catlin would turn his head and look at this man, then turn back to where I was standing and transfer that image—that essence—from this man to this canvas.
“It’s a powerful image. You can see an Indian man here at his finest—during our finest times.
“And he had spiritual power and physical power—you could tell by his muscular body.
“In this particular one, you could see that there’s a buffalo painted on his chest and on his face. And he sits there in complete comfort with this, and he is presenting it.
“He says, “This is me. This is what I am.” And he’s proud of it.
“He gets power and strength from these images and this belief, and there’s no fear in his eye. There’s no threat in his eye, just confidence and strength. And that was good to see.
“Most of these paintings have similar traits—just this incredible strength and power. And it’s a good representation of our people at that time.”