Russell first traveled to the West in 1880 when his family sent him on a trip to Montana for his sixteenth birthday. While his parents viewed the trip as an opportunity to motivate their son and his academic pursuits, Russell saw it as a chance to fulfill his dream of associating with the burgeoning frontier. His arrival coincided with the western cattle boom and after a two-year apprenticeship Russell was working as a horse wrangler on the drives. According to Peter Hassrick, "The earliest Montana remembrances of Charlie were of a boy known as a 'Kid Russell,' who, along with being rough and ready, was known to carry art supplies in an old sock and who impressed associates and passersby with his abilities at painting and sculpture" (Charles Russell, New York, 1989, p. 21). While in Montana, Russell frequently confronted local Indians whose territories were receding as a result of the cattle business, railroads, and the increasing numbers of settlers. Russell, who was sympathetic to the fate of the Native Americans, developed a deep understanding of their way of life, which he sought to capture in works such as Indians Traveling on Travois.
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