Way It Used To Be, The
Unlike most other cowboy artists, Russell frequently depicted events, like the one shown here, from a Native American viewpoint. In the 15 or more works he painted which dealt with Indians encountering wagon trains, he demonstrated their evolving attitude to the incursion of white settlers into their territories. In paintings involving early encounters, the scouting parties were equipped only with bows and arrows and are more curious than alarmed. By the time depicted in this particular piece, the Indians have acquired rifles from white traders and are clearly more hostile. Too few to attack, they may be planning to create an opportunity to steal the white would-be settlers' horses.