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 The Pawnees were accomplished horsemen, farmers and traders.  They were also known as formidable warriors.  With their faces and scalp locks painted red for battle, they projected an intimidating appearance.  Following the Civil l War, U.S. Troops were dispatched to the northern Great Plains to quell Indian uprisings.  Major Frank North enlisted 100 Pawnees as scouts as campaigns against their traditional enemies, the Sioux.  These scouts proved to be able allies to U.S. Forces.  Later, during the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, 200 Pawnees were sent as security for the construction crews and formally designated as North Pawnee Battalion.

The complexity of this composition is essential in telling the story.   From the wagon wheel in the left foreground, the viewer’s eye travels upward to the army officers and personnel, the map and the table.  The suggestive detail of the wagon and tents creates the necessary contrast, and the autumn colors of the trees provide the background for these four primary figures which become the focal point.  The scouts and their mounts face the army officers awaiting their instructions.  The crouching Pawnee scout in the right foreground, the three horses, and the other two scouts provide balance to the composition.  To the far right of the battalion banner, rising smoke calls attention to the suggested rock canyon.  The sensitive use of light goes almost unnoticed, yet it is critical to the overall composition.