The United States Capitol artwork forms a visual narrative that reveals how the artists, and the Federal Government who commissioned them, envisioned America. In the nineteenth-century, this artwork included iconography lauding expansionism and Manifest Destiny. Often American Indians, commonly displaced by rapid expansionism westward, were worked into Capitol paintings, friezes, and sculptures as either Noble Savages, doomed to a sad but necessary extinction, or Ignoble Savages, whose hostility doomed them to a swift and justified extinction. The art of the Capitol forms a text which delineates, among other things, the dominant class's approach towards race relations in the nineteenth century.

Art Survey is a visual survey of the representations of American Indians in the Capitol [Warning: this may take a long time to load, as it is graphics-heavy].
Historical Context explores the political climate in 1850's America and how it contributed to Capitol art.
Progress of Civilization is a textual and visual examination of Thomas Crawford's pediment Progress of Civilization, which depicts American Indians doomed to extinction in the face of necessary Western "progress" [Includes an imagemap].
Exclusions explores art not present in the Capitol; namely, "realistic" ethnographic representations of American Indians which did not fit in with the federal government's political approach towards them.


Fun! What do Kamehameha and the six-toed Indian have in common? Explore here!