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Thomas Easterly was an exceptionally skilled daguerreotypist who truly loved the medium ― he refused to give it up even when the daguerreotype process fell out of fashion after around 1860.

Easterly took a particular interest in the Native American people of the regions around St. Louis. That he made multiple images of Nacheninga, and even copied them later, indicates his desire to document those peoples. It is fair to call this image of Nacheninga a portrait, for he seems to be a fully willing partner in his own representation, and as a diplomat and negotiator for his people, the Iowa, he was a man who might have understood the power of projecting an image by whatever means available.