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Grant number like: FEL-257163-18

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Kristine Kay Ronan
Unaffiliated independent scholar

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2018 – 4/30/2019

Buffalo Dancer: The Biography of a 19th-Century Print by Karl Bodmer

Preparation of a book-length study on the history and reception of an image by Karl Bodmer from 1834, Mandan Buffalo Dancer, that influenced American and Native American art.

This project follows Swiss expedition artist Karl Bodmer’s Mandan Buffalo Dancer (1834) across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Originally created in Indian Territory in 1834, Bodmer’s portrait of a Numak'aki [Mandan] benók óhate [buffalo bull society] leader subsequently traveled in and out of various historical and cultural contexts, forms, and genres. Treating this image’s journey as a biography, I track “Mandan Buffalo Dancer” across both Native American and non-Native settings to develop the first book-length study that bridges American and Native American art histories and Native studies. Detailing how this story’s various agents used print, I argue that: 1) 19-century systems of racial oppression emerged in part through the very mechanics by which print operates; and 2) Native communities simultaneously formed an alternative history of print that eventually fed Native political activism in the 1960s and 1970s.