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Rockpile Museum

Posted on: May 30, 2022

"Re-Visioning Seth Eastman: Officer Artist Among the Dakotas" Now on Display

Re-Visioning Seth Eastman

Re-Visioning Seth Eastman: Officer Artist Among the Dakotas Now on Display at the Campbell County Rockpile Museum


Exhibit Opening Event and Documentary Film Screening Scheduled for June 14th at 6:00 p.m. at the Museum


The Campbell County Rockpile Museum is pleased to announce the arrival of the traveling exhibition Re-Visioning Seth Eastman: Officer Artist Among the Dakotas, now on display at the museum.  This exhibition of 1850s vintage engravings comes to the Rockpile from the Lee Silliman Print Collection of Missoula, Montana.   The exhibit was curated by Dee Garceau, Ph.D., while she was Visiting Instructor in History at the University of Montana.  Guests can enjoy this traveling exhibit at the Rockpile Museum until November 30, 2022.   

Seth Eastman (1808-1875) lived with contradictions. As an Army officer, he was an agent of conquest during a period when the United States claimed Native American lands. Stationed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota Territory, 1830-31 and 1841-48, Eastman protected the interests of American traders, missionaries, and settlers. At the same time, he respected the eastern Dakotas who called this region home. As an artist, Eastman painted scenes of Dakota life that revealed his high regard for their culture. He sketched them visiting, working, traveling, and playing sports. Eastman portrayed the Dakotas' ingenuity, conviviality, artistry, industry, and dignity.

Re-Visioning Seth Eastman consists of 50 vintage lithographs by Eastman that were printed in the 1850s.  Many of the engravings are handsomely hand-tinted.  This exhibit creates a dialogue between Native and Euro-American points of view. Knowledge shared by Dakota elders with non-native publishers and scholars provide Dakota perspectives and nuance. Cultural context materials were prepared by a professional historian with a background in the history of American frontier culture.

A free exhibit opening event will take place on Tuesday, June 14th with exhibition viewing beginning at 6:00 p.m.  At 6:30 p.m., the award-winning documentary Seth Eastman: Painting the Dakota will be screened for free. Learn about the artist and military officer’s life and the traditions of the Dakota he depicted, through Eastman's artwork, essays, and interviews with Dakota elders.  This film was produced by and shown courtesy of Twin Cities Public Television and Afton Historical Society Press.

There will be no admission fee to the opening event on June 14th. The exhibition will be a part of regular museum admission otherwise.  Please visit the Museum’s website at www.rockpilemuseum.com or call 307-682-5723 for more information.  

About the Lee Silliman Print Collection:

Lee Silliman is a retired educator and museum employee living in Missoula, Montana.  He was a Montana secondary level physics, chemistry, and mathematics instructor for 43 years, as well as the part-time photo archivist for a county museum for 26 years.  Since early childhood he has nurtured a strong interest in the art and history of the 19th century American West.  

One of Silliman’s many activities is the purchase of 19th century antique engravings illustrating the American West.  His collection embraces images of landscapes, Native American life, wildlife, exploration, cowboy culture, and national parks.   These topics are organized into traveling exhibits which Silliman assembles in his home-based picture framing shop, which are then displayed in museums throughout the Trans-Mississippi West. 

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