By the 1890s sculptural representations of Native American and western themes had become extremely popular. Frederic Remington, Alexander Phimister Proctor, and MacNeil, among others, were drawn to these subjects, whose attraction stemmed from a romantic concern for the nation's vanishing frontier. MacNeil was particularly noted for the dignity and authenticity of his figures. During visits to several Native American tribes in 1895, he heard of a rite of passage that captured his imagination: before a boy on the threshold of manhood could be accepted as a warrior of his tribe, he must shoot an arrow directly into the sun. If the chieftain judging the boy's prowess was so blinded by the sun's rays that he could not follow the flight of the arrow, then the youth, here identified as a Sioux, had passed the test. MacNeil has heightened the visual impact of his composition by depicting the instant that the arrow has been released and the two figure strain to follow its flight.