|Edward Curtis, Photograph of Medicine Crow|
J. Keeley, WAR PAINT AT THE FRONT. How Many Lives and Much Material Are Saved. Snipers Like Indians of Old. The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand). July 28,1917 p. 7 (reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle)—
…France owes its indebtedness in this protective color science [called camouflage] to the American Indian, who painted his face and nude body to blend with nature so that in his ambuscades he might creep upon his enemy unseen. It is customary to think of the painted Indian as he was when going on his raids, decorated wildly with bright colors which added to the fierceness of his facial expression and which struck terror into the hearts of those who opposed him for the first time. Picturesque as was this phase of the Indian coloring, it was not infrequently nearly as considerable as his more artful concealment by tricks of colors. He could with plant and earth dyes make himself become to all intents and purposes part of the ground to which he hugged or part of the tree trunk to which he clung.
He, in his turn, owed his indebtedness to the birds and beasts of the forest. The quail in the weeds is as brown as the herbage about it; its back and breast are flecked with white in such a manner that it must move before it is detected. The squirrel on the bough is of the same brown hue as the bark; the rabbit crouching in the stubble blends perfectly with the plant life. The polar bear is white because of the advantage it gives him in stealing upon seals across the snow. The bears of more southern districts are brown and black to harmonize with the forests and weather-beaten rocks in which they live. Tropical animals are in the main spotted or mottled, because the sun of the equator is mainly unobscured, shining brightly down upon matted jungles and thus making spotted and flecked shade. Tigers, snakes, leopards, gazelles, giraffe all are marked so. The lion is of a duller dun hue, but one which is beautifully adapted to the rocks and veldts where he stalks.
That man should have in the heyday of his civilization, when the painted Indian had been relegated almost to mythland, had recourse to these savage methods of protection is marvelous and yet it is too common for remark in the ranks of the European soldiers.