Thursday, March 23, 2017

Georgia's Native American Leader Mary Musgrove c 1700-1763 & Her Unfortunate Choice of Husbands

Mary Musgrove (c 1700-1763), Indian leader in colonial Georgia, was the child of a Creek mother & an English trader. Originally named Coosaponakeesa, she was born at Coweta town, then on the Ocmulgee River but later moved to the Chattahoochee River. Her father, whose name is unknown, was an English trader; her mother is said to have been the sister of Old Brim, the so-called “Emperor of the Creeks.” When she was about seven, Mary was taken to Ponpon, South Carolina, by her father about 1710. In her own words, she was "there baptized, educated, and bred up in the principles of Christianity." Mary returned to Coweta in 1715, after the Yamasees revolt was put down. At the end of the Yamassee War in 1716, she returned to the Indian country west of the Savannah River.

Shortly, John Musgrove, a prominent South Carolinian, was sent by his government to deal with the Creeks. His son John Musgrove II, who accompanied him, met the young Indian girl & married her. She now assumed the name Mary Musgrove; & although she was married twice afterward, she is best known throughout history under that name.
John Musgrove & his wife Mary were among several traders who lived to the south & west of the Savannah River before 1733

The couple returned to South Carolina about 1722; but by 1732, they were back among the Creeks, running a trading station near a Yamacraw village on the western bluffs of the Savannah River. Mary & John established their trading post at Yamacraw Bluff in 1732, and Savannah was founded on this site a year later. Here they distributed merchandise primarily secured through the imported goods of Charleston merchants & received from the Indians some 1200 pounds of deerskins annually. They also had “a very good cow-pen & plantation,” where they raised their food crops.

When James Oglethorpe landed in 1733, to found the colony of Georgia, Mary Musgrove was among the first to greet him. Her personality, her facility in English, & her key position as a trader all recommended her to Oglethorpe as an aid in his Indian diplomacy. The Yamacraws were less than pleased with the founding of Savannah much less Georgia. The ink was not yet dry on the treaty establishing the Savannah River as the limit of white expansion to the south and west.

Oglethorpe made Mary his interpreter & emissary to the Creeks, treating her with “great Esteem.” It was largely owing to Mary Musgrove’s influence that the Creeks remained friendly to the English, serving throughout the imperial wars of the 18th-century as a buffer between the Southern English colonies & the Spanish in Florida. She became one of the most important figures in Georgia’s colonial history.
James Oglethorpe depicted with Yamacraw Chief Tomochichi. Mary appears between them.

Her husband John Musgrove served as interpreter for John Wesley and Tomo-Chichi. John Wesley was a frequent visitor to Mary's plantation on the Savannah. Mary owned the fairest and broadest acres in Georgia and supplied the struggling colonists with meat, bread & liquor.

At Oglethorpe’s request, the Musgroves set up Mount Venture, a trading station at the forks of the Altamaha River, to serve a a listening post for threats from Spanish Florida. Unfortunately Mary's beloved husband John Musgrove died there in 1739, & his widow promptly married one Jacob Matthews, captain of the 20 rangers stationed at the post, a “lusty fellow,” quarrelsome, & given to drink, who had formerly been her indentured servant.

Public opinion of Matthews was mixed. William Stephens migrated from England to Savannah in 1737, to serve as secretary of Trustee Georgia. Stephens wrote of Jacob Matthews: "On his Master's Death he found Means to get into the Saddle in his Stead, fitly qualified to verify the old Proverb of a Beggar on Horseback; soon learning to dress in gay Cloaths, which intitled him to be a Companion with other fine Folks of those Days, . . . . He was flattered to believe himself a Man of great Significance, and told, that he would be to blame not to exert himself, and let the World know what his Power was with the Indians; wherefore he might expect the Trust would have a singular Regard to that, and be careful to oblige him in all he should expect. Thus prepared, what may we not expect from him? To pass over many of his late Exploits a few of which I have touch'd on in some of my preceding Notes; he seems now to be grown ripe for exemplifying to what Uses he means to employ that Influence he thinks he has over those neighboring Indians, who by half Dozens or more at a Time, have daily of late been flocking about his House in Town, where they continually get drunk with Rum, and go roaring and yelling about the Streets, as well at Nights as Days, to the Terror of some, but the Disturbance and common Annoyance of everybody."

However, a neighbor, Robert Williams later testified: "I was an Inhabitant in this Province and lived at the next Plantation to Mr. Jacob Mathews on the River Savannah . . . he had cleared and planted a large Tract of Land with English Wheat, Indian Corn, Pease, and Potatoes; and very believe he had a larger Crop than any Planter raised by the Labour of White Hands within the said County And I further declare that I have often heard the said Mathews say, that he never received from the Trustees, or Persons in Power at Savannah on their Behalf, Any Bounty or Reward for the said produce. . . ."

From Mount Venture, Mary rallied the Creeks to aid the Georgians in their was with Spain-the War of Jenkins’ Ear 1739-44. Bands of Creek warriors accompanied Oglethorpe in his unsuccessful attack on St. Augustine in 1740, & her brother was killed in that attempt. She returned to Savannah in 1742, because of her husband’s ill health. Upon her departure, Spanish Indians destroyed Mount Venture & the settlement that had grown up around it.

Apparently Jacob worked hard but he also set himself up as the leader of the malcontents in Georgia and chief critic of the authorities to the annoyance of William Stephens. Stephens declared in his Journal for 1740 that it was useless "to foul more Paper in tracing Jacob Matthews through his notorious Debauches; and after his spending whole Nights in that Way, reeling home by the Light of the Morning, with his Banditti about him." Jacob Matthews died on May 8, 1742

Oglethorpe left the colony of Georgia in 1743, upon his departure giving Mary 200 pounds & a diamond ring from his finger. She continued her services to the colony, working successfully during the War of the Austrian Succession to counter French influence among the Creeks. Mrs Musgrove also persuaded her native relatives to retain their English allegiance, after their brief flirtation with Spain during the Creek-Cherokee war in 1747-48.

About 3 years after the death of her 2nd husband, Mary remarried. Her new husband would come to foment a scheme which took advantage both of the Creeks & of the colony government. Her new husband was an opportunistic fortune seeker named Thomas Bosomworth.

Bosomworth had an "Ambition of being an Author" of essays on religion. According to Stephens, "his sprightly Temper, added to a little Share of classical Learning, makes him soar" high. Bosomworth wrote a long essay on the "Glory & Lustre" of charity, to the Georgia Trustees in 1742, attempting to show that the Bethesda Orphans Asylum was being perverted. Bosomworth also wrote poems & lyrics but took offense at the accusation of having "Ambitions to be an Author." He wrote the Trustees, "I am sorry to find that my good intentions are so far perverted as to be imputed to an Ambition of appearing as an Author."

Failing as a religious essayist, Bosomworth next felt a call to preach sailing to England for Holy Orders in March 1743. He was appointed minister to Georgia for a term of 3 years on July 4th, and returned to Georgia on December 2nd. However, Bosomworth soon tired of preaching & apparently of Mary. He sailed back to England in 1745, without notice or providing for the church in Savannah declaring that he would not return. The Georgia Trustees ignored the complaints he attempted to bring to their attention, but Bosomworth decided to return to Georgia the following year.

He was, however, no longer the minister. One report was that he cast "aside his Sacredotals;" but another had it that the Trustees had torn them from him. His successor, the Reverend Mr. Zouberbuhler, discovered that Bosomworth had stripped the parsonage of all furniture, & he was forced to live in an unfurnished house for some time.

Dissatisfied with past unsuccessful financial ventures, Bosomworth laid plans for an ambitious venture into the cattle business. Mary first secured from the Creeks a grant of the 3 coastal islands of St. Catherines, Ossabaw, & Sapelo, together with a tract of land near Savannah which had been reserved to the Creeks, by treaty with the English, for hunting grounds. Chief Malatchee entered into this agreement on the "4th day of ye Windy Moon called ye month of January by ye English" in 1747, in return for promises of cloth, ammunition, & cattle.

After Bosomworth had stocked St. Catherines with cattle bought on credit in South Carolina, Mary made large claims to the colonial & English government for her past services. Mary & her husband came to Savannah on July 24, 1749, accompanied by Malatchee & 2 other chiefs. Malatchee announced that he was "the present and only reigning Emperor" & that all Creeks were his loyal followers. Malatchee also announced that 200 more chiefs & their warriors would be in Savannah within 8 days. And so Mary produced a large body of Indian warriors into Savannah in the summer of 1749, terrorizing the town for nearly a month. In 1754, she & her husband sailed for England to press her claims.

Not until 1759, was a settlement reached, the English government finally agreeing to give her St. Catherines Island & 1,200 pounds for her services to Georgia. Back on St. Catherines, she & her husband built a manor house & developed a cattle ranch, but Mary died not live long to enjoy it. Sometime in the early 1760s, she died & was buried on the island. Her only children, by her 1st husband, had all died in infancy.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Native Americans in 1736 Georgia - Philipp Georg Friedrich von Reck 1710–1798


1736 Georgia Philipp Georg Friedrich von Reck (German artist, 1710–1798) An Indian Camp

In 1736, Philipp Georg Friedrich von Reck (German artist, 1710–1798) then only 25 years old, sailed with other colonists from Germany to Georgia. One of his intentions, expressed in a letter before he left Europe, was to bring back from America "ocular proof" of what he called "this strange new world." Idealistic & enthusiastic, well-educated & blessed with an amazing artistic gift, von Reck kept a travel diary, wrote separate descriptions of the plants, animals & Indians he discovered in Georgia & drew some 50 watercolor & pencil sketches of what he saw.  


Monday, March 20, 2017

1764 New York Mohawk finds himself on display in Europe

Etching of the New York Mohawk Sychnecta, in traditional dress. He wears a characteristic head-dress & nose-&ear-jewellery of the Mohawks. He carries a bow & arrow in his left hand plus a pipe-tomahawk in his right hand. Next to his feet a pair of snowshoes is depicted. Dreesmann-collection of the Municipal Archives of Amsterdam, dr.pr.1463

In the 16C, Dutch ships frequently sailed across the oceans. Once back in their home ports, the crew members told stories of the wondrous things they had seen. Interest in these stories was enormous. Merchants were eager to learn all they could about trade possibilities with distant lands; cartographers were hungry for facts about newly discovered regions; & collectors tried to purchase the exotic objects these venturers had brought home. Living & stuffed animals found their way to menageries (forerunners of today's zoos); collectors' cabinets; traveling exhibitions; and, in some cases, inns.

In the autumn of 1764, an American Mohawk Indian could be seen at the Blauw Jan Inn in Amsterdam. In the port city of Amsterdam, there were countless inns in the 17C & 18C, & some of them maintained collections of exotic animals & even exotic humans. A German living in the Mohawk Valley had joined forced with his neighbours to earn some money in Europe. He reached Amsterdam via England with 2 Indians. He sold one of them, named Sychnecta, to the manager of the inn who in turn put him on display. Sychnecta was drawn there from life in his traditional costume by Amsterdam artist Pieter Barbiers  (1717-1780) . A. Smit made an etching from the drawing. Sychnecta returned to the Mohawk Valley in the summer of 1765.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Women already on the Atlantic coast of America when the English arrived

John White (English artist, c 1540-1593) One of the Wives of Wyngyno, John White Painting of Algonquian Indians of Virginia (later North Carolina), 1585

John White (English artist, c 1540-1593) was an English artist & early pioneer of English efforts to settle North America. He was among those who sailed with Richard Grenville to the shore of present-day North Carolina in 1585, acting as artist & mapmaker to the expedition. During his time at Roanoke Island he made a number of watercolor sketches of the surrounding landscape and the native Algonkin peoples. These works are significant as they are the most informative illustrations of a Native American society of the Eastern seaboard.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

1600s Depictions of Native Americans - More Fantasy than Fact

Ralph Hamor visits Powhatan with a proposal By Johann Theodore de Bry after Georg Keller 1619

By Johann Theodore de Bry after Georg Keller
Engraving from book page, 1619
Plate 10 from America, Part 10

In May 1614 Ralph Hamor, the interpreter Thomas Savage, & two guides visit Powhatan's town on the Pamunkey River. In the foreground Powhatan feels Hamor's neck for "the chaine of pearle" Powhatan had given Thomas Dale to designate the English envoy. In the background at center, Hamor has an audience with Powhatan at his house, surrounded by Powhatan's guard. After presenting gifts, Hamor asks if Dale can have Powhatan's youngest daughter as "his neerest companion, wife & bedfellow." Powhatan refuses the request. Left of the house, an Englishman stands with Indian men, perhaps a representation of Hamor finding William Parker—a colonist lost for three years—among the Indians. In this image, the artist's invented details include the spear, the design & materials of the houses, & the tropical trees.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Du-cór-re-a, Chief of the Tribe, and His Family by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Du-cór-re-a, Chief of the Tribe, and His Family

New Jersey born George Catlin (1796-1872) is reknowned for his extensive travels across the American West, recording the lives of Native Americans. In 1818, Catlin practiced law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821 to pursue painting. Catlin enjoyed modest success painting portraits & miniatures, but he longed to be a history painter. In 1828, after seeing a delegation of western Indians in the east, he had wrote that he had found a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." In 1830, Catlin made his initial pilgrimage to St. Louis to meet William Clark & learn from him all he could of the western lands he hoped to visit. Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating an astonishing visual record of Native American life. He had only a short time to accomplish his goal—to capture with canvas & paint the essence of Indian life & culture. In that same year, the Indian Removal Act commenced the 12-year action that would remove the remaining Indians from land east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, the Mandan would be decimated by smallpox; with in a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Studying Native Americans in the Southeast

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin
US National Park Service

Southeast 

The American Southeast was home to the “Five Civilized Tribes”—the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles—and there are many good books documenting their history. Angie Debo and Grant Foreman wrote in the first half of the twentieth century, and their work, though dated, is still solid. Debo’s The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (1934) and Foreman’s The Five Civilized Tribes (1934)—both published by the University of Oklahoma Press—are thorough overviews of their subjects. Debo’s And Still the Waters Run (Princeton: Princeton University Press) was a controversial exposé of how Oklahoma’s politicians and leading citizens bilked the Indians and the Five Civilized Tribes of their land and resources.

Two prominent scholars of Cherokee history are William G. McLoughlin and Theda Perdue. Among MacLoughlin’s several works is Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), which describes how the Cherokees underwent a profound cultural change after the American Revolution by adopting many Anglo-American social, economic, political, and religious practices. Theda Perdue’s Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979) looks at how Cherokee Indians participated in the slave trade, adopted the slave-labor plantation system, and attempted to negotiate the slavery issue during the Civil War years. The principal chief of the Cherokees from the 1820s through 1866 was John Ross, and Gary E. Moulton’s biography John Ross: Cherokee Chief (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978), describes how Ross managed the many crises of these turbulent years.

Other significant books in the field include Charles Hudson’s Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando De Soto and the South’s Ancient Chiefdoms (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997), which is a lengthy but pleasantly readable and richly illustrated account of the Spanish expedition into the American Southeast in 1539-1543 and the Indians encountered there. In The Tree that Bends: Discourse, Power, and the Survival of the Maskókî People (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999), Patricia Riles Wickman studies the experience of the Florida Indians and makes the claim that, rather than being swept away by Americans—as conventional wisdom suggests—descendants of early Florida Indians still inhabit the state today. Joel W. Martin’s Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees’ Struggle for a New World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991) is an insightful ethnohistorical account of the religious dimensions to the Creek “Redstick Revolt” of 1813-1814. James H. Merrell’s The Indians’ New World: The Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989) is a study of the amazingly adaptable Catawbas, a small tribe in the Carolina Piedmont that managed, unlike many southeastern tribes, to retain their ancestral homelands.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Assiniboin Woman and Child by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Assiniboin Woman and Child

New Jersey born George Catlin (1796-1872) is reknowned for his extensive travels across the American West, recording the lives of Native Americans. In 1818, Catlin practiced law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821 to pursue painting. Catlin enjoyed modest success painting portraits & miniatures, but he longed to be a history painter. In 1828, after seeing a delegation of western Indians in the east, he had wrote that he had found a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." In 1830, Catlin made his initial pilgrimage to St. Louis to meet William Clark & learn from him all he could of the western lands he hoped to visit. Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating an astonishing visual record of Native American life. He had only a short time to accomplish his goal—to capture with canvas & paint the essence of Indian life & culture. In that same year, the Indian Removal Act commenced the 12-year action that would remove the remaining Indians from land east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, the Mandan would be decimated by smallpox; with in a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Studying Native Americans on The Plaines

George Caleb Bingham (American genre painter, 1811-1879) Eh-toh'k-pah-she-pée-shah, Black Moccasin, aged Chief 1832

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin US National Park Service

Plains 

The Plains Indians are the most prominent Indians in popular culture. Not surprisingly, there are many books on Plains Indians that demonstrate good scholarship and are accessible to a general audience. Among them are John C. Ewers’s The Blackfeet: Raiders on the Northwestern Plains (1958); Ernest Wallace and Adamson Hoebel’s The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains (1953); and several histories on the Pawnees and Sioux written by George E. Hyde—all of which are published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Two classics that incorporate Indian points of view are Peter J. Powell’s People of the Sacred Mountain: A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies, 1830-1879, with an Epilogue 1969-1974 (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1981), and Jerome A. Greene’s edited volume, Lakota and Cheyenne: Indian Views of the Great Sioux War, 1876-1877 (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1994). Recent and accessible tribal histories include Jeffrey Ostler’s The Plains Sioux and U.S. Colonialism from Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004); and novelist Stanley Noyes’s lively narrative of Comanche history, Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993).

Another prolific and well-respected historian of the West is Robert M. Utley. Among his many works is The Indian Frontier, 1846-1890, revised ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003), which surveys of Indian-White relations on the Plains and the far West. Utley’s The Last Days of the Sioux Nation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963) examines the Ghost Dance messianic movement among the Sioux and the slaughter of approximately two hundred Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Not to be overlooked is Francis Parkman’s The California and Oregon Trail: Being Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life (New York: George P. Putnam, 1849), a travel narrative of his trip to the Plains and his extended visit with an Oglala Sioux band. The Oregon Trail has remained a classic for over a century and a half and is still in print today. Elliot West’s The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1998) is a well-written study that examines the evolving lifestyles of both Indians and Whites on the Great Plains through the mid-nineteenth century, demonstrating that conflict and competition were important forces of transformation.

John G. Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1932) is a warm, sympathetic biography of a Sioux holy man. Neihardt interviewed Black Elk and several other Sioux and, using artistic license, interpreted and rewrote the interviews. This book has been enthusiastically received and is available in at least eight different languages. Those wishing to understand Black Elk without Neihardt’s interpretation should consult Raymond J. DeMallie’s The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk’s Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), a book that contains the verbatim transcripts of the Black Elk interviews along with a thoughtful, one hundred-page biographical sketch of Black Elk.

Mari Sandoz grew up in the Sand Hills of Nebraska and personally befriended many Indians in the early reservation period. Her Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1942) is a tragic, loving, almost mystical narrative about the famous Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, whom she saw as the last champion of the traditional Sioux way of life. One esteemed biographer calls it “the best American biography ever written.” Among her many other books are Cheyenne Autumn (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953), which describes the exodus of the Northern Cheyennes from a reservation in Oklahoma to their traditional homelands on the Northern Plains, and These Were the Sioux (New York: Hastings House, 1961), a short, easy-to-read, and affectionate portrayal of pre-reservation Sioux life.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Indian camp in California in 19C America by Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902)


Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) Indian camp in California (1866)

Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) was best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. To paint the scenes, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion. Bierstadt, was born in Solingen, Germany. He was still a toddler, when his family moved from Germany to New Bedford in Massachusetts. In 1853, he returned to Germany to study in Dusseldorf, where he refined his technical abilities by painting Alpine landscapes. After he returned to America in 1857, he joined an overland survey expedition traveling westward across the country. Along the route, he took countless photographs & made sketches & returned East to paint from them. He exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum from 1859-1864, at the Brooklyn Art Association from 1861-1879, & at the Boston Art Club from 1873-1880. A member of the National Academy of Design from 1860-1902, he kept a studio in the 10th Street Studio Building, New York City from 1861-1879. He was a member of the Century Association from 1862-1902, when he died.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Studying Native Americans in California and the Northwest

Ostenaco - Skiagusta Uku - Mankiller of the Cherokeesby Sir Joshua Reynolds 1762 Gilcrease Museum

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin US National Park Service

California and the Northwest 

One of the most poignant stories in the history of Indian-White relations is the story of Ishi, a Yahi Indian, who stumbled out of the California backcountry and into a slaughterhouse corral in the summer of 1911. Ishi’s band had eluded capture and extermination for many years, but, when all had died except for Ishi, he decided to take his chances and present himself to his American neighbors. Ishi In Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961), is an account of Ishi’s life written by Theodora Kroeber, wife of professor Alfred Kroeber, who became one of Ishi’s caretakers. This amazing human interest story, written with a warm, empathetic intimacy, is truly a “must read.”

Another important work is Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.’s The Nez Percé Indians and the Opening of the Northwest (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965). This well-written history explores the Nez Percé Indians and their traditional way of life, their responses to increasing pressure from Whites and the resultant conflicts, and concludes with a description of the Nez Percé war and Chief Joseph’s subsequent flight. Lowell John Bean’s Mukat’s People: The Cahuilla Indians of Southern California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972) and Frederica deLaguna’s Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990) are good introductory texts on the Indians of California and Alaska, respectively.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) Encounters 19C Native American Traditions

Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) Watercolor of an Assinboin Indian magic pile 
From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America to the Pacific coast of America during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples on their journeys. Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) developed a remarkable talent for drawing & painting while studying with his uncle, painter & engraver Johann Jacob Meyer. After further studies in Paris, he joined his brother on a sketching trip through Germany in 1832 where he met Prince Maximilian zu Weid. Maximilian, known for his natural history research in the coastal forests of Brazil, was searching for a professional artist to accompany him on his expedition to North America. Bodmer signed a contract with Maximilian &, 3 weeks later, they set sail for America.

From 1833-1834, the two traveled up the Missouri River, retracing the 1805 journey of Lewis & Clark. On the expedition, Bodmer depicted some of the same characters that George Caitlin had painted just months before. Bodmer was the last artist able to paint the Mandan Indians in North Dakota before the fatal 1837 smallpox epidemic that nearly obliterated the tribe. He also painted portraits of the Sioux, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, & other tribes, while Maximilian conducted studies & made notes on the botany & zoology of the areas. Before the end of the journey, Bodmer had completed 81 paintings, illustrating Maximilians expedition. Each elegant painting displayed extremely detailed & accurate accounts of Indian ceremonies & everyday life. In 1843, Maximilian's lithographs were published in Travels in the Interior of America. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Studying Native American Writings

George Caleb Bingham (American genre painter, 1811-1879) Om-pah-tón-ga, Big Elk, a Famous Warrior 1832

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin - US National Park Service

Native Voices 

Although Indian voices are under-represented in the literature, there are still many worthy selections available, including Black Elk Speaks, Indeh, and Jerome Green’s book on Lakota and Cheyenne views of the Plains wars—each discussed above. The works of Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), a mixed-blood Sioux, deserve particular attention. Eastman was a boarding school standout and graduate of Dartmouth College who received his M.D. from Boston University’s medical school. To reformers, Eastman represented the ideal assimilated Indian. Despite his success in White society, he never lost his affection for traditional Indian culture and devoted much of his life to explaining its merits to White Americans. Among his many works is From the Deep Woods to Civilization (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1916), a moving autobiographical account.

Vine Deloria, Jr., was the leading Native American intellectual of the latter twentieth century. He wrote copiously on social, political, and theological issues and was a leading Indian rights advocate. Those interested in contemporary Native American issues ought to read one of his many books and essays. Among his publications are Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1969), which is a humorous yet caustic social and political commentary, and God Is Red: A Native View of Religion.(New York: Putnam Publishing Group, 1973), which attempts to explain Indian religions vis-à-vis Christianity.

Other significant native histories include Born a Chief: The Nineteenth Century Hopi Boyhood of Edmund Nequatewa, as told to Alfred F. Whiting (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993).
Charlotte J. Frisbie has edited two lengthy Indian autobiographies, Tall Woman: The Life Story of Rose Mitchell, a Navajo Woman, c. 1874-1978 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001); and Navajo Blessingway Singer: The Autobiography of Frank Mitchell, 1881-1967 (Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1978). Those interested in contemporary native histories might read Mary Crow Dog’s Lakota Woman (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990), a captivating autobiography of a Sioux woman who was born into reservation poverty and joined the Indian protest movements of the 1960s. Another contemporary native history is Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1995). It is a riveting account, alternately humorous and unsettling, of a man the Washington Post calls “[o]ne of the biggest, baddest, meanest, angriest, most famous American Indian activists of the late twentieth century.”

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) paints a Funeral scaffold of a Sioux chief

Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) Funeral scaffold of a Sioux chief

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America to the Pacific coast of America during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples on their journeys. Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) developed a remarkable talent for drawing & painting while studying with his uncle, painter & engraver Johann Jacob Meyer. After further studies in Paris, he joined his brother on a sketching trip through Germany in 1832 where he met Prince Maximilian zu Weid. Maximilian, known for his natural history research in the coastal forests of Brazil, was searching for a professional artist to accompany him on his expedition to North America. Bodmer signed a contract with Maximilian &, 3 weeks later, they set sail for America. From 1833-1834, the two traveled up the Missouri River, retracing the 1805 journey of Lewis & Clark. On the expedition, Bodmer depicted some of the same characters that George Caitlin had painted just months before. Bodmer was the last artist able to paint the Mandan Indians in North Dakota before the fatal 1837 smallpox epidemic that nearly obliterated the tribe. He also painted portraits of the Sioux, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, & other tribes, while Maximilian conducted studies & made notes on the botany & zoology of the areas. Before the end of the journey, Bodmer had completed 81 paintings, illustrating Maximillians expedition. Each elegant painting displayed extremely detailed & accurate accounts of Indian ceremonies & everyday life. In 1843, Maximilian's lithographs were published in Travels in the Interior of America. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Studying Native American Imagery, Art, and Expression

George Caleb Bingham (American genre painter, 1811- 1879) Captured by Indians

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin - US National Park Service

Native American Imagery, Art, and Expression

Native Americans—and the value judgments associated with them—have been cast and recast throughout the centuries based on contemporaneous social, cultural, and political forces. The book that best documents these reinterpretations of “the Indian” is Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.’s The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1978). Brian W. Dippie’s The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1982) explains how White perceptions of “the Indian” influenced government policy. June Namias’s White Captives: Gender and Ethnicity on the American Frontier (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993) surveys the captivity narratives genre, a genre that often used the Indian as a foil for White society.

Many artists have chosen Native Americans as subjects for their works. Perhaps the most famous is George Catlin, who painted Native American scenes and portraits in the mid-nineteenth century. There are many books on Catlin, including George Catlin and his Indian Gallery (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), edited by George Gurney and Therese Thau Heyman. The work of Karl Bodmer, one of Catlin’s contemporaries, is noted for its ethnographic value in Karl Bodmer’s America (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), by David C. Hunt, et al. Paula Richardson Fleming and Judith Luskey’s The North American Indians in Early Photographs (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1992) provides a broad overview of Native American photography from the 1850s through the early twentieth century. The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991) discusses the significance of Native Americans in frontier art.

Native people documented their own histories and cultures using a variety of visual media. Ledger drawings—or ledger art—was a common way for native peoples to record and commemorate their history. Cheyenne Dog Soldiers: A Ledgerbook History of Coups and Combat (Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1997), edited by Jean Afton, et. al., is a handsome presentation of a ledgerbook illustrated by Cheyenne warriors in the 1860s. Janet Catherine Berlo has edited a similar book entitled Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk’s Vision of the Lakota World (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 2000), in which a Lakota Sioux depicts a wide range of scenes from late nineteenth century tribal life. There are many informative books that explore Native American art and artifacts. David W. Penney’s Art of the American Indian Frontier: The Chandler-Pohrt Collection (Seattle: University of Washington Press and The Detroit Art Institute, 1992) presents over two hundred decorated weapons, pipes, headdresses, accessories, and articles of clothing—and his North American Indian Art (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), provides a good region-by-region overview of Native American art.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) paints Missouria, Otoe, and Ponca Indians

Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) lithograph of Missouria, Otoe, and Ponca Indians

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America to the Pacific coast of America during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples on their journeys. Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) developed a remarkable talent for drawing & painting while studying with his uncle, painter & engraver Johann Jacob Meyer. After further studies in Paris, he joined his brother on a sketching trip through Germany in 1832 where he met Prince Maximilian zu Weid. Maximilian, known for his natural history research in the coastal forests of Brazil, was searching for a professional artist to accompany him on his expedition to North America. Bodmer signed a contract with Maximilian &, 3 weeks later, they set sail for America. From 1833-1834, the two traveled up the Missouri River, retracing the 1805 journey of Lewis & Clark. On the expedition, Bodmer depicted some of the same characters that George Caitlin had painted just months before. Bodmer was the last artist able to paint the Mandan Indians in North Dakota before the fatal 1837 smallpox epidemic that nearly obliterated the tribe. He also painted portraits of the Sioux, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, & other tribes, while Maximilian conducted studies & made notes on the botany & zoology of the areas. Before the end of the journey, Bodmer had completed 81 paintings, illustrating Maximilians expedition. Each elegant painting displayed extremely detailed & accurate accounts of Indian ceremonies & everyday life. In 1843, Maximilian's lithographs were published in Travels in the Interior of America. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Studying Native Americans in the Southwest

Chief Nutimus Netawatwees (born 1650)

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin - US National Park Service

Southwest 

In the American Southwest, Indians interacted with Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans, and other Indians. Several studies synthesize the historical and cultural interactions between Indians and their neighbors. One eminently readable—but rather lengthy—study is Elizabeth A. H. John’s award-winning Storms Brewed in Other Men’s Worlds: The Confrontations of Indians, Spanish, and French in the Southwest, 1540-1795 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). John examines Spanish-Indian relations from Coronado’s visit to the Pueblos to the collapse of imperial Spanish authority at the end of the nineteenth century, arguing that over the decades— and centuries—Indians and Spaniards worked out a system of mutual accommodation. Another lengthy but well-written study is Edward H. Spicer’s Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico, and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest, 1533-1960 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1962). Spicer’s study extends beyond John’s to include Indian relations with Mexico and the United States. A similar—but more recent and shorter—study is Gary Clayton Anderson’s The Indian Southwest, 1580-1830: Ethnogenesis and Reinvention (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999). David Roberts provides a well-written, broadly-accessible survey of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in The Pueblo Revolt : The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004).

Peter Iverson has written several tribal histories on the Navajo Indians, one of America’s largest and most influential tribes. Diné: A History of the Navajos (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002), is a richly-illustrated broad overview of the Navajo people that will appeal to a broad audience. Iverson’s Carlos Montezuma and the Changing World of American Indians, 2d ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001) examines the life of a Yavapai Indian who was born in the mid-nineteenth century, attended college, and became a leading Native American rights advocate in the early twentieth century.

Forrest Carter’s Watch For Me On the Mountain (New York: Delacourt Press, 1978) is a fast-moving, spirited work of historical fiction about Geronimo and the Apaches’ struggle against the U.S. military. Another appealing biography is Eve Ball’s award-winning Indeh: An Apache Odyssey, revised ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988). Her book presents a series of oral interviews conducted with several Apaches, in particular Ace Daklugie, son of the famous warrior Juh, whose life spanned the pre-reservation and reservation periods. The interviews are sometimes humorous, sometimes sorrowful, but always sensitive and informative. Those searching for a traditional account of the Apache wars should consult Dan L. Thrapp’s The Conquest of Apacheria (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967).

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ah'-kay-ee-pix-en, Woman Who Strikes Many by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Ah'-kay-ee-pix-en, Woman Who Strikes Many

New Jersey born George Catlin (1796-1872) is reknowned for his extensive travels across the American West, recording the lives of Native Americans. In 1818, Catlin practiced law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821 to pursue painting. Catlin enjoyed modest success painting portraits & miniatures, but he longed to be a history painter. In 1828, after seeing a delegation of western Indians in the east, he had wrote that he had found a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." In 1830, Catlin made his initial pilgrimage to St. Louis to meet William Clark & learn from him all he could of the western lands he hoped to visit. Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating an astonishing visual record of Native American life. He had only a short time to accomplish his goal—to capture with canvas & paint the essence of Indian life & culture. In that same year, the Indian Removal Act commenced the 12-year action that would remove the remaining Indians from land east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, the Mandan would be decimated by smallpox; with in a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Studying Native Americans in the Northeast

A-wun-ne-wa-be, Bird of Thunder 1845

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin - US National Park Service

Native Americans in the Northeast 

There are many good histories discussing Indians of northeastern America. James Axtell’s The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985) is a thoughtful, provocative study that employs ethnohistorical methods to examine relations between the Indians and the colonial French and English. Colin Calloway’s New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) is a thoughtful thematic overview of Indian history through the eighteenth century, and in Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), Karen Ordahl Kupperman surveys the complexities of the tentative give-and-take relations between Indians and Europeans along the east coast. Helen Rountree’s Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990) is an ethnohistorical survey of the Powhatan Indians, that, unlike many books on eastern Indians, surveys the history of the tribe from the time of early contact through twentieth century.

Focusing principally on Puritan-Indian relations in the seventeenth century are Alden Vaughan’s The New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians, 1620-1675 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1965) and Douglas Edward Leach’s Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip’s War (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1958). Vaughan argues that conflict among groups was to be expected and that the Puritan Indian policy was relatively just; Leach, however, disagrees. Jill Lepore’s The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998) looks at how memories of the conflict hardened racial divisions and shaped the identities of Indians and Whites alike. John Demos’s The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America (New York: Knopf, 1994) examines the life of Eunice Williams, the daughter of a Puritan minister, who, after being captured by French and Indians, refused repatriation efforts and ultimately married a Catholic Mohawk.

At the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, there was an Indian uprising against the British. Francis Parkman writes about A Pontiac’s Rebellion” in his two-volume classic The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War After the Conquest of Canada, revised ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1870). Parkman, one of America’s greatest narrative historians, provides a gripping account, though some find his prose condescending at times. A more up-to-date scholarly account can be found in Gregory Evan Dowd’s War under Heaven: Pontiac, the Indian Nations, and the British Empire (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). Richard White’s The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991) argues that Indians existed in a cultural, political, and economic “middle ground” between rival British, French, and American imperial powers. White’s book is lengthy and intended for academics, and it is one of the most significant books on the subject.

The Iroquois were the dominant Indians in the northeast, and there are several first-rate Iroquois histories. Anthony F. C. Wallace’s The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1970) is a classic ethnohistorical study of the Seneca Indians (an Iroquoian tribe), the challenges posed them by White contact, and their subsequent renaissance in the nineteenth century. Another excellent study of Iroquois history and culture is Daniel K. Richter’s The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992). The captivity narrative of Mary Jemison, who was abducted by the Iroquois in 1758 as a teenager, provides a sympathetic insider’s view of Iroquois life in the eighteenth century. This easy-to-read account is available as A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, ed., June Namias (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992).

Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian who lived in what is now Ohio and Indiana, is one of America’s most famous native leaders. Several biographies examine Tecumseh’s life and a pan-Indian resistance movement he orchestrated, including John Sugden’s recent Tecumseh: A Life (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. 1997), and R. David Edmunds’s more concise Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1984).