The Coffee Coolers or Ration Indians were Indians who had signed a peace treaty and consented to live on a reservation or near an agency. To the Hostiles these fellow tribesman had given up the warrior life in exchange for the white man’s handout. Sitting Bull expressed his contempt, You are fools to make yourself slaves to a piece of fat bacon, some hardtack, and a little coffee and sugar.
Yet, the animosity between the Hostiles and the Coffee Coolers was, in the end, misspent energy. Once the great westward expansion began in earnest, the Plains way of life, even for those who continued to hunt and fight, was doomed.
Howard Terpning’s “Coffee Coolers Meet the Hostiles” is a magnificent MuseumEdition Canvas large in size and extremely limited in number. In this grand fine art edition, the two factions come together on their ancestral land, one offering the peace pipe to other. On the horizon, a storm gathers strength. Perhaps this time, together, they can weather it.