Squint Eyes: Artist and Indian Scout

n July 1885, Squint Eyes enlisted in the Army's newly formed companies of scouts. The scouts were established to provide assistance to regular Army troops in patrolling the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation and the Cherokee Outlet. In August, Squint Eyes was assigned to Company B, Fort Supply, where he served as a scout for approximately three years under the command of Colonel Zenas R. Bliss. It was there that Squint Eyes completed a unique set of drawings that beautifully illustrate a part of the unique history of Fort Supply and the Cheyenne Indians who served there in the 1880s.

Squint Eyes' drawings primarily depict Army officers, civilians and Cheyenne scouts engaged in hunting, an important part of Cheyenne cultural heritage and a favorite pastime of officers and enlisted men. Like other Plains Indian drawings, these images deemphasize landscape setting and individual facial features while providing remarkably accurate depictions of culturally significant details: in Squint Eyes' case, the military clothing, arms and accoutrements of the scouts. Each man is dressed and equipped in items of standard issue for the period of his service, from coat buttons to hat ventilators. Only three of the drawings show men in traditional Cheyenne dress, which at that time consisted of cloth shirts and leggings. These may have been included to provide a glimpse of the "old ways," although buffalo appear in only one drawing.

Squint Eyes (Tichkematse). Photo by G.W. Davis, 1879.

Colonel Z. R. Bliss appears younger in Squint Eyes' drawings than in this photograph from his book. Perhaps Squint Eyes was being kind to the white-haired soldier chief, or the photo was inserted into the book at a later date.

LEFT: White Man is in a desperate situation. The bull buffalo appears to be charging. Buffalo were all but gone from the Southern Plains by the late 1870s, and the image is an anachronism among the scenes of contemporary hunting life.

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