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When Oklahoma was a brand new place, these were the first pictures reporters brought back

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA -- The first impressions the world got of Indian and Oklahoma Territories came from artists like George Catlin who embedded with a Cavalry expedition in 1832.

He was sick for most of the trip but sketched Comanche stick all players and Indians chasing buffalo through the Wichita Mountains.

Fred Jones Jr. Art Museum Director Mark White says these first illustrators were more news reporters than artists.

He explains, "They were working from impressions that they often had to capture very quickly because they were on the move."

The first things to catch the tourist's eye; color, interesting people, and landscapes.

That's Cavanal HIll near Poteau, Oklahoma in 1819.

That's Rock Mary from 1853, a natural formation that still there west of the town of Hydro.

White says, "These images really provide us with a valuable record."

Mark White and staff found hundreds of early sketches, paintings, engravings from before the age of photography.

"Picturing Indian Territory," he says, "is really the first survey of the visual history of Oklahoma and Indian Territories."

So what's here?

From early sketches to full portraits of the 1843 International Peace Council in Tahlequah, engravings of conflicts like the Washita Massacre that showed up in Harper's Weekly, to sit down portraits from artists who came to see people like Geronimo or Pawnee Bill.

White says, "These artists, illustrators, and reporters were taking information back from Indian Territory to the East Coast for a national and international audience."

There are still people who wander in search of things they've never seen before.

The equipment they use has changed.

The times have changed.

But it's still an interesting place for all kinds of first impressions.

The show is called "Picturing Indian Territory" it runs from October 6 through December 30, 2016 at the Fred Jones Jr. Art Museum in Norman on the OU campus.