George Catlin (July 26, 1796 – December 23, 1872) was an American painter, author, and traveler. Visiting 48 North American Indian tribes, he is noted as being the first American artist to interpret through illustration the Plains Indians.
In 1832, ignoring "those whose anxieties were ready to fabricate every difficulty and danger that could be imagined," Catlin set out for his first journey into the vast and pathless wilds which are familiarly denominated the great "Far West."
Time was of the essence, because he was convinced that the Indians of the American West were already "rapidly passing away from the face of the earth," the victims of diseases and alcohol introduced to them by white fur traders.
Over the next nine years, Catlin traveled 1,800 miles up the Missouri River, visited the southern plains and Great Lakes region, and painted more than 300 portraits and 200 scenes of everyday Indian life. His sketches and paintings are the first and most important record of land west of the Mississippi River before white settlement.