On the Border of the White Man's Land

Artist: Solon Hannibal Borglum (American, Ogden, Utah 1868–1922 Stamford, Connecticut)

Date: 1899; cast 1906–07

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: 18 1/2 x 27 x 10 1/4 in. (47 x 68.6 x 26 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1907

Accession Number: 07.104


In 1899, Borglum spent three months among the Sioux on the Crow Creek reservation in South Dakota. There he heard the story of Black Eagle, a scout for General Custer in the early 1870s, who was sent to report on the unvanquished Indians west of the Missouri River. Black Eagle encountered one of them and had to kill him, taking as his prize a black eagle feather tied to the enemy's horse and so earning the name by which he became known. In an early plaster sketch, titled The Scout, Borglum depicted Black Eagle lying flat at the edge of a rocky cliff, shielded by his horse, watching for the foe. Borglum revised and developed this work in Paris in late 1899, and it evolved into On the Border of the White Man's Land. The scout, now holding himself up with his left arm, hides behind his horse, parting its mane for a clear, yet camouflaged, view. The horse's tail is decorated with a black eagle feather. The finished composition, with its duality of perspective - all the details of the drama are visible on one side; on the other, only the form of the horse shows - must be viewed in the round to be fully appreciated.