Art: Indian Conquest

Lo, the poor Indian! Whose untutor'd mind sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind.

—Alexander Pope, 1732

The European view of the American Indian has generally been patronizing, to say the least. Pope's classic dig helped fix the image of a savage. A noble version was conceived by the 19th century romantics, but an ignoble one was later imported from Hollywood. Museums on both sides of the Atlantic have not helped much, tending to confine their Indian exhibits to ethnographic ghettos dominated by braves and their war bonnets. However, Sacred Circles, a stunning show of Indian art sponsored by Britain's...