Performed acculturation at Fort Marion : case study of Zotom's drawings

Kristin Ann Strid


This study examines how Native American warriors imprisoned at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, between 1875 and 1878, used their drawings to perform acculturation. I use the Kiowa warrior Paul Caryl Zotom’s drawings as a case study to demonstrate how the prisoners became methodical and formulaic in their subject matter and artistic style. Euro-American visitors to Fort Marion appreciated particular drawings over others, thereby directing subject matter. Prisoners adopted European artistic standards, thus, connected with their White audience further. Zotom’s embrace of both the subject matter and artistic style that the Euro-American audience appreciated most indicates his desire to demonstrate how successful he and his fellow prisoners were at adopting the white man’s road. I argue that much of the apparent change displayed visually in Zotom’s drawings was performed rather than true acculturation.