Friday, August 31, 2018

1629 New England - The Countryside & Native Americans

A Short and True Description of New England
by the Rev. Francis Higginson, written in 1629 Printed for Michael Sparke, London, 1630.

Higginson (1588-1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the 1st minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

First therefore of the earth of New England and all the appurtenances thereof. It is a land of divers and sundry sorts all about Massachusetts Bay, and at Charles River is as fat black earth as can be seen anywhere; and in other places you have a clay soil; in others sandy, as it is all about our plantation at Salem, for so our town is now named (Psalms 76:2).
The form of the earth here in the superficies of it is neither too flat in the plains nor too high in hills, but partakes of both in mediocrity, and fit for pasture, or for plow or meadow ground, as men please to employ it.

- For all the country be as it were a thick wood in general, yet in divers places there is much ground cleared by the Indians, as especially about the plantation. - 

I am told that about three miles from us a man may stand on a little hilly place and see divers thousands of acres of ground as good as need to be, and not a tree in the same. It is thought here is good clay to make bricks and tiles and earthen pots as needs to be. At this instant we are setting up a brick-kiln to make bricks and tiles for the building of our houses.

For stone there is plenty of slates at the Isle of Slate in the bay of Massachusetts, and limestone, free-stone and smooth-stone and iron-stone and marble stone also in such a store, that we have great rocks of it, and a harbor hard by. Our plantation is from thence called Marble Harbor.Of minerals there hath yet been but little trial made, yet we are not without great hope of being furnished in that soil.The fertility of the soil is to be admired at, as appeareth in the abundance of grass that groweth everywhere, both very thick, very long, and very high in divers places. But it groweth very wildly with a great stalk and a broad and ranker blade, because it never had been eaten by cattle, nor mowed with a scythe, and seldom trampled on by foot. It is scarce to be believed how our kine and goats, horses and hogs do thrive and prosper here and like well of this country

Thursday, August 30, 2018

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Yuma Chief, his Daughter, & a Warrior

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Yuma Chief, his Daughter, and a Warrior.   Catlin wrote, "From St. Diego, on horseback, crossing the Colorado of the West at La Paz, and Rocky Mountains to St. Diego on the Rio Grande del Norte, and from that point, in a 'dug-out,' steering with my own paddle, descended that river to El Paso, and to Matamoras, 800 miles, seeing Cochemtees, Mohaves, Yumas, Yumayas, and several bands of the Apachees." See: George Catlin. North and South American Indians: Catalogue Descriptive and Instructive of Catlin's Indian Cartoons.Baker & Godwin, 1871

The historic Yuman-speaking people were skilled warriors & active traders, maintaining exchange networks with the Pima in southern Arizona & with peoples of the Pacific coast.  The 1st written contact of the Quechan with Europeans was with the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza & his party in the winter of 1774. Relations were friendly. On Anza's return from his 2nd trip to Alta California in 1776, the chief of the tribe & 3 of his men journeyed to Mexico City to petition the Viceroy of New Spain for the establishment of a mission. The chief Palma & his three companions were baptized in Mexico City on February 13, 1777. Palma was given the Spanish baptismal name Salvador Carlos Antonio.  Spanish settlement among the Quechan did not go smoothly; the tribe rebelled from July 17–19, 1781 & killed 4 priests & 30 soldiers. They also attacked & damaged the Spanish mission settlements of San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer & Puerto de Purísima Concepción, killing many. The following year, the Spanish retaliated with military action against the tribe. After the United States annexed the territories after winning the Mexican–American War, it engaged in the Yuma War from 1850 to 1853. During which, the historic Fort Yuma was built across the Colorado River from the present day Yuma, Arizona.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

1846 Paul Kane (1810–1871) Flathead Woman and Child

1846 Paul Kane (1810–1871) Flathead Woman and Child 

The mountainous homeland of the Fathead's original territory extended from the crest of the Bitterroot Range to the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains and centered on the upper reaches of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River.  In the early 19C they lived in the Bitterroot River valley, although later by treaty they moved to northern Montana.  The Flathead peoples now live on a tract of land south of Flathead Lake, Montana, which they share with the Kootenai tribe.

As with other tribes, such as the Gros Ventre, the name Flathead is a misnomer. It is reported that unlike their kin in the Columbia River valley, the Flathead did not practice skull alterations, although, the painting above seems to represent the opposite.

Tradition relates that the Flathead Native Indians adopted the custom of changing their appearance as they believed it made them look distinct from other Native American tribes. It was believed that the process was painless and did not affect their mental capabilities. It was seen as an act of caring for a new baby and ensuring they were seen as new members of the community in which they lived. It was a sign of status, identification and of prestige. Although the people who made up the groups of Flathead Native Indians were generally peaceful, on the occasions they fought with others it was their practice to take slaves. Flathead slaves were never allowed to adopt the process of changing the appearance of their children.
The custom involved flattening the head by artificial pressure during the infancy of all baby boys and girls.  It was believed that the bones of the head in a little baby are soft and can therefore be pressed out of shape without inflicting any pain. As the child grows older, the bones become harder and cannot be easily altered. The Native Indians who followed this custom made the head a wedge-shaped, from a side view.  The 'Flathead' look was obtained by wrapping the baby's head in a bandage and using a board, which was hinged to the cradle-board, that was brought down upon the baby's forehead. The process began when the baby was about one month old.  The board forced the head to broaden in front and the forehead to slant sharply. After the pressure from the board had been kept on for some months, the shape of the head was changed for life, giving the appearance of a Flathead. The picture shows a Chinook cradle with the flattening board. The heads of the children are released from the bandage between the ages of 10 - 12 months.  The procedure resulted in a head with an elongated, flattened appearance, not more than two inches thick from the upper edge of the forehead, and still thinner above.

The Flathead had close ties to the Lemhi Shoshone, and even spent part of the year with them. Their traditional enemies were the Blackfeet, who prevented the Flathead from expanding their territory eastward. These two tribes were in ongoing struggles when Lewis and Clark first arrived in the region.

The Lemhi Shoshone had told the expedition they might encounter the Flathead as they passed through the Bitterroots. But it was quite by accident that the meeting happened. A Flathead chief, Three Eagles, saw the expedition first and returned to his group to warn them of the approach. When the Lewis and Clark Corps finally came upon the 33 lodges, they found themselves warmly greeted by the Indians.

Lewis and Clark noted that the Flathead resembled the Lemhi Shoshone in clothing, hairstyle, and actions, but differed greatly in language. At one point John Ordway, one of the expedition members, wondered if the language difference indicated that the Corps had located the mythical lost Welsh Indians. The myth said that long-lost Welsh Prince Madoc discovered America before Columbus. From the Lewis & Clark Expedition Journals, John Ordway wrote, September 4, 1805, "these natives have the Stranges language of any we have ever yet seen. ...we think perhaps that they are the welch Indians, &. C."

The Flathead now live on a tract of land south of Flathead Lake, Montana, which they share with the Kootenai tribe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

American Artist George Catlin (1796-1872) A Stone Warrior, His Wife, and a Boy

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Stone Warrior, His Wife, and a Boy The Stone tribe was in British Canada.

The Assiniboine or Assiniboin people ("stone Sioux") were originally from the Northern Great Plains of North America. Assiniboine are closely linked by language to the Stoney First Nations people of Alberta. The latter two tribes speak varieties of Nakota, a distant, but not mutually intelligible, variant of the Sioux language. The Europeans & Americans adopted names that other tribes used for the Assiniboine.  The English adopted Assiniboine, used by the Canadian French colonists. The Ojibwe name was asinii-bwaan (stone Sioux). Other tribes associated "stone" with the Assiniboine because they primarily cooked with heated stones. They dropped hot stones into water to heat it to boiling for cooking meat. The Assiniboine, along with the Stoney of Alberta, share a common ancestry with the Sioux nation. The separation of the Assiniboine from the Sioux must have occurred at some time prior to 1640, as Paul Le Jeune names them along with the "Naduessi" (Sioux) in his Jesuit Relations of that year.  The Assiniboine & Sioux were both gradually pushed westward onto the plains from the woodlands of Minnesota by the Ojibwe, who had acquired firearms from their French allies. Later, the Assiniboine acquired horses via raiding & trading with neighboring tribes of Plains Native Americans such as the Crow & the Sioux on their south.

The Assiniboine eventually developed into a large & powerful people with a horse & warrior culture; they used the horse to hunt the vast numbers of bison that lived within & outside their territory. At the height of their power, the Assiniboine dominated territory ranging from the North Saskatchewan River in the north to the Missouri River in the south, & including portions of modern-day Saskatchewan, Alberta, & Manitoba, Canada; & North Dakota & Montana, United States of America.  The next person of European descent known to describe the Assiniboine was an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company named Henry Kelsey in the 1690s. Later explorers & traders Jean Baptiste de La Vérendrye & his sons (1730s), Anthony Henday (1754–55), & Alexander Henry the younger (1800s) confirmed that the Assiniboine held a vast territory across the northern plains, including into the United States (which achieved independence in 1783 but did not acquire the plains until 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase from France.)  The Assiniboine became reliable & important trading partners & middlemen for fur traders & other Native Americans, particularly the British Hudson's Bay Company & North West Company, operating in western Canada in a vast area known then as Rupert's Land. During the later 18C & early 19C, south of the border in what became Montana & the Dakota territories, the Assiniboine traded with the American Fur Company & the competing Rocky Mountain Fur Company. The Assiniboine obtained guns, ammunition, metal tomahawks, metal pots, wool blankets, wool coats, wool leggings, & glass beads, as well as other goods from the fur traders in exchange for furs. Beaver furs & bison hides were the most commonly traded furs.

The Lewis & Clark expedition's journals mention the Assiniboine, whom the party heard about while returning from Fort Clatsop down the Missouri River. However, these explorers did not encounter or come in direct contact with the tribe. Noted European & American painters traveled with traders, explorers, & expeditions for the opportunity to paint the West & its Native American peoples. Among those who encountered & painted the Assiniboine from life were painters Karl Bodmer, Paul Kane, & George Catlin.  Increased contact with Europeans resulted in Native Americans contracting Eurasian infectious diseases from the Europeans. They suffered epidemics with high mortality, most notably smallpox among the Assiniboine. The Assiniboine population crashed from around 10,000 people in the late 18th century to around 2600 by 1890.

Monday, August 27, 2018

1643 New England - The Confederation & Native Americans

The New England Confederation, was a political & military alliance of the English colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, & New Haven. Established May 29, 1643. Its primary purpose was to unite the Puritan colonies against Native Americans.
ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION between the plantations under the government of the Massachusetts, the plantations under the government of New Plymouth, the plantations under the government of Connecticut, & the government of New Haven with the plantations in combination therewith:

WHEREAS we all came into these parts of America with one & the same end & aim, namely, to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ & to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace; & whereas in our settling (by a wise providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the seacoasts & rivers than was at first intended, so that we cannot according to our desire with convenience communicate in one government & jurisdiction; & whereas we live encompassed with people of several nations & strange languages which hereafter may prove injurious to us or our posterity; & forasmuch as the natives have formerly committed sundry insolences & outrages upon several plantations of the English & have of late combined themselves against us; & seeing by reason of those sad distractions in England which they have heard of, & by which they know we are hindered from that humble way of seeking advice, or reaping those comfortable fruits of protection, which at other times we might well expect, we, therefore, do conceive it our bounden duty, without delay, to enter into a present consociation among ourselves, for mutual help & strength in all our future concernments.

That, as in nation & religion, so in other respects, we be & continue one according to the tenor & true meaning of the ensuing articles. Wherefore it is fully agreed & concluded by & between the parties of jurisdictions above named, & they jointly & severally do by these presents agree & conclude that they all be & henceforth be called by the name of the United Colonies of New England.

2. The said United Colonies, for themselves & their posterities, do jointly & severally hereby enter into a firm & perpetual league of friendship & amity for offense & defense, mutual advice & succor upon all just occasions, both for preserving & propogating the truth & liberties of the Gospel & for their own mutual safety & welfare.

3. It is further agreed that the plantations which at present are, or hereafter shall be, settled within the limits of the Massachusetts shall be forever under the Massachusetts, & shall have particular jurisdiction among themselves in all cases as an entire body; & that Plymouth, Connecticut, & New Haven shall each of them have like particular jurisdiction & government within their limits, & in reference to the plantations which already are settled, or shall hereafter be erected, or shall settle within their limits respectively; provided that no other jurisdiction shall hereafter be taken in as a distinct head or member of this confederation, nor shall any other plantation or jurisdiction in present being, & not already in combination or under the jurisdiction of any of these confederates, be received by any of them; nor shall any two of the confederates join in one jurisdiction without consent of the rest, which consent to be interpreted as is expresed in the 6th article ensuing.

4. It is by these confederates agreed that the charge of all just wars, whether offensive or defensive, upon what part or member of this confederation soever they fall, shall both in men & provisions & all other disbursements be borne by all the parts of this confederation in different proportions according to their different ability in manner following, namely, that the commissioners for each jurisdiction, from time to time as there shall be occasion, bring a true account & number of all the males in every plantation or any way belonging to or under their federal jurisdictions of what quality or condition soever they be from sixteen years old to threescore being inhabitants there. & that according to the different numbers which from time to time shall be found in each jurisdiction, upon a true & just account, the service of men & all charges of the war be borne by the poll; each jurisdiction or plantation being left to their own course & custom of rating themselves & people according to their different estates with due respects to their qualities & exemptions among themselves though the confederation take no notice of any such privilege; & that according to their different charge of each jurisdiction & plantation, the whole advantage of the war (if it please God to bless their endeavors), whether it be in lands, goods, or persons, shall be proportionately divided among the said confederates.

5. It is further agreed that, if any of these jurisdictions or any plantation under or in combination with them be invaded by any enemy whatsoever, upon notice & request of any three magistrates of that jurisdiction so invaded, the rest of the confederates, without any further meeting or expostulation, shall forthwith send aid to the confederate in danger but in different proportions; namely, the Massachusetts, 100 men sufficiently armed & provided for such a service & journey, & each of the rest, 45 so armed & provided, or any less number, if less be required according to this proportion. But in any such case of sending men for present aid, whether before or after such order or alteration, it is agreed that at the meeting of the commissioners for this confederation the cause of such war or invasion be duly considered; & if it appear that the fault lay in the parties so invaded that then that jurisdiction or plantation make just satisfaction, both to the invaders whom they have injured, & bear all the charges of the war themselves, without requiring any allowance from the rest of the confederates toward the same. And, further, that if any jurisdiction see any danger of any invasion approaching, & there be time for a meeting, that in such case three magistrates of that jurisdiction may summon a meeting at such convenient place as themselves shall think meet, to consider & provide against the threatened danger; provided when they are met they may remove to what place they please. Only while any of these four confederates have but three magistrates in their jurisdiction, their request or summons from any two of them shall be accounted of equal force with the three mentioned in both the clauses of this article, till there be an increase of magistrates there.

6. It is also agreed that for the managing & concluding of all affairs proper & concerning the whole confederation, two commissioners shall be chosen by & out of each of these four jurisdictions; namely, two for the Massachusetts, two for Plymouth, two for Connecticut, & two for New Haven, being all in church fellowship with us, which shall bring full power from their several General Courts respectively to hear, examine, weigh, & determine all affairs of our war or peace leagues, aids, charges, & numbers of men for war, division of spoils & whatsoever is gotten by conquest, receiving of more confederates for plantations into combination with any of the confederates, & all things of like nature, which are the proper concommitants or consequents of such a confederation for amity, offense, & defense, not inter-meddling with the government of any of the jurisdictions, which by the 3rd article is preserved entirely to themselves  It is further agreed that these eight commissioners shall meet once every year, besides extraordinary meetings (according to the 5th article), to consider, treat, & conclude of all affairs belonging to this confederation

7. It is also agreed that the commissioners for this confederation hereafter at their meetings, whether ordinary or extraordinary, as they may have commission or opportunity, do endeavor to frame & establish agreements & orders in general cases of a civil nature, wherein all the plantations are interested, for preserving peace among themselves & preventing as much as may be all occasion of war or difference with others, as about the free & speedy passage of justice in every jurisdiction, to all the confederates equally as to their own, receiving those that remove from one plantation to another without due certificates; how all the jurisidictions may carry it toward the Indians, that they neither grow insolent nor be injured without due satisfaction, lest war break in upon the confederates through such miscarriage.

It is agreed that if any servant run away from his master into any other of these confederated jurisdictions, that in such case, upon the certificate of one magistrate in the jurisdiction out of which the said servant shall be delivered either to his master or any other that pursues & brings such certificate of proof. & that upon the escape of any prisoner whatsoever, or fugitive for any criminal cause, whether breaking prison, or getting away from the officer, or otherwise escaping, upon the certificate of two magistrates of the jurisdiction out of which the escape is made, that he was a prisoner, or such an offender at the time of the escape, the magistreates, or some of them of that jurisdiction where for the present the said prisoner or fugitive abides, shall forthwith grant such a warrant as the case will bear for the apprehending of any such person, & the delivery of him into the hands of the officer or other person who pursues him. & if there be help required for the safe returning of any such offender, then it shall be granted to him that craves the same, he paying the charges thereof.

8. & for that the justest wars may be of dangerous consequence, especially to the smaller plantations in these United Colonies, it is agreed that neither the Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, nor New Haven, nor any of the members of them, shall at any time hereafter begin, undertake, or engage themselves, or this confederation, or any part thereof in any war whatsoever (sudden exigents with the necessary consequents thereof excepted which are also to be moderated as much as the case will permit) without the consent & agreement of the forenamed eight commissioners, or at least six of them, as in the 6th article is provided; & that no charge be required of any of the confederates in case of a defensive war till the said commissioners have met & approved the justice of the war, & have agreed upon the sum of money to be levied, which sum is then to be paid by the several confederates in proportion according to the 4th article

9. It is further agreed that if any of the confederates shall hereafter break any of these present articles, or be any other ways injurious to any one of the other jurisdictions, that both peace & this present confederation may be entirely preserved without violation.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

American Artist George Catlin (1796-1872) A Flathead Chief with his Family.

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Flathead chief with his family.  The Flathead peoples now live on a tract of land south of Flathead Lake, Montana, which they share with the Kootenai tribe. Native Americans have lived in Montana for more than 14,000 years, based on archaeological findings. The Flathead Native Americans were not just one tribe. The term Flathead was the nickname given by Europeans to any Native Americans who intentionally changed the shape of their heads to a flat, elongated profile. These tribes included the Coast Salish, the Chinooks, the Clatsop, Kathlamet, Killamuck, Winnapa, Cowlitz, Kwalhioquas and the Wahkiakum tribes. The Bitterroot Salish came from the West Coast, whereas the Kootenai lived mostly in the interior of present-day Idaho, Montana, & Canada & left artifacts there from prehistoric time. One group of the Kootenai in the northeast lived mainly on bison hunting. Another group relied primarily on fishing & lived on the rivers & lakes of the mountains in the west. When they moved east, they could not rely on fishing & turned to eating plants & bison.

During the 18C, the Salish & the Kootenai tribes shared gathering & hunting grounds.  Flathead's original territory extended from the crest of the Bitterroot Range to the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains & centred on the upper reaches of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River. Although early accounts referred to all Salish-speaking tribes as “Flathead,” most of the people now known by this name never engaged in head flattening.

The Flathead were the easternmost of the Plateau Indians. Like other tribes that regularly traversed the Rocky Mountains, they shared many traits with nomadic Plains Indians. The Flathead acquired horses in great numbers & mounted annual fall expeditions to hunt bison on the Plains, often warring with tribes that were permanent residents of the area. Traditional Flathead culture also emphasized Plains-type warfare including staging war dances, killing enemies, counting coups (touching enemies to shame or insult them), kidnapping women & children, & stealing horses.  Before European colonization, the Flathead usually lived in tepees.  The A-framed mat-covered lodge, a typical Plateau structure, was also used. Western Flathead groups used bark canoes, while eastern groups preferred the round bison-skin vessels known as bullboats that were typical of the Plains.  Traditional Flathead religion centered on Shamanism & guardian spirits, with whom individuals communicated in visions.  A spirit could bring good fortune & health to the person it guarded or disease & misfortune to others.
Some Flathead Native Indians, both men & women, also adorned their face & bodies with tattoos. The practice was chiefly adopted by the women of the communities. The designs of the tattoos took the shape of circular or parallel lines & dots.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Frustrated Gentlemen Scholars Search for Ancient Mississippi Valley Native American Mound-builders

An artists depiction of the Anna Site a Plaquemine culture mound site in Adams County, Mississippi 10 miles north of Natchez. Inhabited from 1200 to 1500 CE.  Wonders of geometric precision, the earthworks of the lower Mississippi were centers of life long before the Europeans arrived in America. As was the river itself. The soil of its banks yielded a bounty of beans, squash, & corn to foster burgeoning communities. Over the Mississippi’s waters, from near & far, came prized pearls, copper, & mica.  Today, most of the mound-builders’ legacy is gone. Many of their earthworks have been plowed, pilfered, eroded, & built over. Yet evidence of the culture remains. (Image thanks to the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service}

With few exceptions—such as the record of Hernando DeSoto's Spanish army—there are no documents of what travelers saw in the age of the moundbuilders. DeSoto's entourage, which traversed the valley in the 1540s, came when the cultures were in decline. DeSoto landed near Tampa Bay, Florida, & for two years trekked across what are now the states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, & Louisiana. He visited a number of large communities in the Mississippi valley.

“Having arrived in the town, we found that the caciques there were accustomed to have, next to the houses where they lived, some very high mounds, made by hand, & that others have their houses on the mounds themselves. On the summit of that mound we drove in the cross, & we all went with much devotion, kneeling to kiss the foot of the cross." Luys Hernandez de Biedma, 1539, from The De Soto Chronicles

“The greatest adornment of all . . . consists in certain figures of suns, serpents, or other things, which they carry pictured on their bodies in the manner of the ancient Britons, of whom Caesar tells us in his Commentaries. It is not only for them an ornament, but also a mark of honor & distinction, which is only acquired after many brave deeds . . . The figure imprinted on the flesh is never effaced. It is carried to the tomb." Le Page Du Pratz, Histoire de la Louisiane, 1758

“It is altogether unknown to us what could have induced the Indians to raise such a heap of earth in this place . . . It is reasonable to suppose, however, that they were to serve some important purpose in those days, as they were public works, & would have required the united labour & attention of a whole nation." William Bartram, writer/naturalist, 1775

“Here, covered in with gigantic trees of a primitive forest, the work truly presents a grand & impressive appearance; & upon entering the ancient avenue for the first time, the visitor does not fail to experience a sensation of awe such as he might feel in passing the portals of an Egyptian temple." E.G. Squier & E.H. Davis, Ancient Monuments, 1848

“An ancient & unknown people left remains of settled life, & of a certain degree of civilization, in the valleys of the Mississippi & its tributaries. We have no authentic name for them either as a nation or a race; therefore they are called "Mound-Builders," this name having been suggested by an important class of their works." James Baldwin, Ancient America, 1872

“This is the worst place to get any information I ever struck. I have asked a thousand questions, & about the only consolation I have is . . . to tramp to every mound I can hear of & look at it for myself. One man today was willing to swear that a mound in this country was over a quarter of a mile high! That's all I know. Of course, De Soto comes in for a large share of this work." Letter from Charles S. Smith to Bureau of American Ethnology president Cyrus Thomas, April 3, 1885

Friday, August 24, 2018

George Catlin (1796-1872) A Blackfoot Chief, His Wife, and a Medicine Man

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Blackfoot Chief, His Wife, and a Medicine Man

The Niitsitapi, also known as the Blackfoot or Blackfeet Indians, reside in the Great Plains of Montana & the Canadian provinces of Alberta & Saskatchewan. Only one of the Niitsitapi tribes are called Blackfoot or Siksika. The name is said to have come from the color of the peoples' moccasins, made of leather. They had typically dyed or painted the soles of their moccasins black. One legendary story claimed that the Siksika walked through ashes of prairie fires, which in turn colored the bottoms of their moccasins black.

Due to language & cultural patterns, anthropologists believe the Niitsitapi did not originate in the Great Plains of the Midwest North America, but migrated from the upper Northeastern part of the country. They coalesced as a group while living in the forests of what is now the Northeastern United States. They were mostly located around the modern-day border between Canada & the state of Maine. By 1200, the Niitsitapi were moving in search of more land.[citation needed] They moved west & settled for a while north of the Great Lakes in present-day Canada, but had to compete for resources with existing tribes. They left the Great Lakes area & kept moving west.

When they moved, they usually packed their belongings on an A-shaped sled called a travois. The travois was designed for transport over dry land. The Blackfoot had relied on dogs to pull the travois; they did not acquire horses until the 18th century. From the Great Lakes area, they continued to move west & eventually settled in the Great Plains.

The Plains had covered approximately 780,000 square miles with the Saskatchewan River to the north, the Rio Grande to the south, the Mississippi River to the east, & the Rocky Mountains to the west. Adopting the use of the horse, the Niitsitapi established themselves as one of the most powerful Indian tribes on the Plains in the late 18th century, earning themselves the name "The Lords of the Plains."  Niitsitapi stories trace their residence & possession of their plains territory to "time immemorial."
George Catlin (1796 –1872)  Blackfoot Woman

The Niitsitapi main source of food on the plains was the American bison (buffalo), the largest mammal in North America, standing about 6 1⁄2 feet tall & weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Before the introduction of horses, the Niitsitapi needed other ways to get in range. The buffalo jump was one of the most common ways. The hunters would round up the buffalo into V-shaped pens, & drive them over a cliff (they hunted pronghorn antelopes in the same way). Afterwords the hunters would go to the bottom & take as much meat as they could carry back to camp. They also used camouflage for hunting. The hunters would take buffalo skins from previous hunting trips & drape them over their bodies to blend in & mask their scent. By subtle moves, the hunters could get close to the herd. When close enough, the hunters would attack with arrows or spears to kill wounded animals.

The people used virtually all parts of the body & skin. The women prepared the meat for food: by boiling, roasting or drying for jerky. This processed it to last a long time without spoiling, & they depended on bison meat to get through the winters. The winters were long, harsh, & cold due to the lack of trees in the Plains, so people stockpiled meat in summer. As a ritual, hunters often ate the bison heart minutes after the kill. The women tanned & prepared the skins to cover the tepees. These were made of log poles, with the skins draped over it. The tepee remained warm in the winter & cool in the summer, & was a great shield against the wind.  The women also made clothing from the skins, such as robes & moccasins, & made soap from the fat. Both men & women made utensils, sewing needles & tools from the bones, using tendon for fastening & binding. The stomach & bladder were cleaned & prepared for use for storing liquids. Dried bison dung was fuel for the fires. The Niitsitapi considered the animal sacred & integral to their lives.

Up until around 1730, the Blackfoot traveled by foot & used dogs to carry & pull some of their goods. They had not seen horses in their previous lands, but were introduced to them on the Plains, as other tribes, such as the Shoshone, had already adopted their use. They saw the advantages of horses & wanted some. The Blackfoot called the horses ponokamita (elk dogs). The horses could carry much more weight than dogs & moved at a greater speed. They could be ridden for hunting & travel.

Horses revolutionized life on the Great Plains & soon came to be regarded as a measure of wealth. Warriors regularly raided other tribes for their best horses. Horses were generally used as universal standards of barter. Medicine men were paid for cures & healing with horses. Those who designed shields or war bonnets were also paid in horses. The men gave horses to those who were owed gifts as well as to the needy. An individual's wealth rose with the number of horses accumulated, but a man did not keep an abundance of them. The individual's prestige & status was judged by the number of horses that he could give away. For the Indians who lived on the Plains, the principal value of property was to share it with others.
 Karl Bodmer 1809-1893 Blackfoot Warrior ca. 1840-1843.

After having driven the hostile Shoshone & Arapaho from the Northwestern Plains, the Niitsitapi began in 1800 a long phase of keen competition in the fur trade with their former Cree allies, which often escalated militarily. In addition both groups had adapted to using horses about 1730, so by mid-century an adequate supply of horses became a question of survival. Horse theft was at this stage not only a proof of courage, but often a desperate contribution to survival, for many ethnic groups competed for hunting in the grasslands.

The Cree & Assiniboine continued horse raiding against the Gros Ventre (in Cree: Pawistiko Iyiniwak – "Rapids People" – "People of the Rapids"), allies of the Niitsitapi. The Gros Ventres were also known as Niya Wati Inew, Naywattamee ("They Live in Holes People"), because their tribal lands were along the Saskatchewan River Forks (the confluence of North & South Saskatchewan River). They had to withstand attacks of enemies with guns. In retaliation for Hudson's Bay Company supplying their enemies with weapons, the Gros Ventre attacked & burned in 1793 South Branch House of the Hudson's Bay Company  on the South Saskatchewan River near the present village of St. Louis, Saskatchewan. Then, the tribe moved southward to the Milk River in Montana & allied themselves with the Blackfoot. The area between the North Saskatchewan River & Battle River (the name derives from the war fought between these two tribal groups) was the limit of the now warring tribal alliances.

The Blackfoot tribe first met with Europeans & learned of their fur trade 1754.  Anthony Henday of the Hudson's Bay Company met a large Blackfoot group in 1754 in what is now Alberta. The Blackfoot had established dealings with traders connected to the Canadian & English fur trade before meeting the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1806. Lewis & Clark & their men had embarked on mapping the Louisiana Territory & upper Missouri River for the United States government.

On their return trip from the Pacific Coast, Lewis & three of his men encountered a group of young Blackfoot warriors with a large herd of horses, & it was clear to Meriwether Lewis that they were not far from much larger groups of warriors. Lewis explained to them that the United States government wanted peace with all Indian nations, & that the US leaders had successfully formed alliances with other Indian nations. The group camped together that night, & at dawn there was a scuffle as it was discovered that the Blackfoot were trying to steal guns & run off with their horses while the Americans slept. In the ensuing struggle, one warrior was fatally stabbed & another shot by Lewis & presumed killed.

In subsequent years, American mountain men trapping in Blackfoot country generally encountered hostility. When John Colter, a member of the Lewis & Clark expedition, returned to Blackfoot country soon after, he barely escaped with his life. In 1809, Colter & his companion were trapping on the Jefferson River by canoe when they were surrounded by hundreds of Blackfoot warriors on horseback on both sides of the river bank. Colter's companion, John Potts, did not surrender & was killed. Colter was stripped of his clothes & forced to run for his life, after being given a head start (famously known in the annals of the West as "Colter's Run.") He eventually escaped by reaching a river five miles away & diving under either an island of driftwood or a beaver dam, where he remained concealed until after nightfall. He trekked another 300 miles to a fort.

In the context of shifting tribal politics due to the spread of horses & guns, the Niitsitapi initially tried to increase their trade with the Hudson's Bay Company traders in Rupert's Land whilst blocking access to the Hudson's Bay Company  by neighboring peoples to the West. But the Hudson's Bay Company  trade eventually reached into what is now inland British Columbia.

The Hudson's Bay Company  encouraged Niitsitapiksi to trade by setting up posts on the North Saskatchewan River, on the northern boundary of their territory. In the 1830s the Rocky Mountain region & the wider Saskatchewan District were the Hudson's Bay Company 's most profitable, & Rocky Mountain House was the Hudson's Bay Company 's busiest post. It was primarily used by the Piikani. Other Niitsitapiksi nations traded more in pemmican & buffalo skins than beaver, & visited other posts such as Fort Edmonton.

In 1822 the American Fur Company entered the Upper Missouri region from the south for the first time, without Niitsitapiksi permission. This led to tensions & conflict until 1830, when peaceful trade was established. This was followed by the opening of Fort Piegan as the first American trading post in Niitsitapi territory in 1831, joined by Fort MacKenzie in 1833. The Americans offered better terms of trade & were more interested in buffalo skins than the Hudson's Bay Company , which brought them more trade from the Niitsitapi. The Hudson's Bay Company  responded by building Bow Fort (Peigan Post) on the Bow River in 1832, but it was not a success.

In 1833, German explorer Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied & Swiss painter Karl Bodmer spent months with the Niitsitapi to get a sense of their culture. Contact with the Europeans caused a spread of infectious diseases to the Niitsitapi, mostly cholera & smallpox. In one instance in 1837, an American Fur Company steamboat, the St. Peter's, was headed to Fort Union & several passengers contracted smallpox on the way. They continued to send a smaller vessel with supplies farther up the river to posts among the Niitsitapi. The Niitsitapi contracted the disease & eventually 6,000 died, marking an end to their dominance among tribes over the Plains. The Hudson's Bay Company did not require or help their employees get vaccinated; the English doctor Edward Jenner had developed a technique 41 years before but its use was not yet widespread.
George Catlin (1796 –1872) Blackfoot Chief Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, or Stu-mick-o-súcks (in the Blackfoot language), was a head war chief of the Blood Indians. He is remembered today for his portrait, painted by George Catlin in 1832, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In one of his letters, Catlin wrote:
I have this day been painting a portrait of the head chief of the [Blood tribe] … he is a good-looking and dignified Indian, about fifty years of age, and superbly dressed; whilst sitting for his picture he has been surrounded by his own braves and warriors and also gazed at by his enemies, the Crows and the Knisteneaux, Assinneboins and Ojibbeways; a number of distinguished personages of each of which tribes have laid all day around the sides of my room; reciting to each other the battles they have fought, and pointing to the scalp-locks, worn as proofs of their victories, and attached to the seams of their shirts and leggings.

The name of this dignitary of whom I have just spoken is Stu-mick-o-sucks (the buffalo's back fat), i.e., the ‘hump’ or ‘fleece’ the most delicious part of the buffalo's flesh. … The dress … of the chief … consists of a shirt or tunic, made of two deerskins finely dressed, and so placed together with the necks of the skins downwards, and the skins of the hind legs stitched together, the seams running down on each arm, from the neck to the knuckles of the hand; this seam is covered with a band of two inches in width, of very beautiful embroidery of porcupine quills, and suspended from the under edge of this, from the shoulders to the hands, is a fringe of the locks of black hair, which he has taken from the heads of victims slain by his own hand in battle. … In his hand he holds a very beautiful pipe, the stem of which is four or five feet long, and two inches wide, curiously wound with braids of the porcupine quills of various colours; and the bowl of the pipe ingeniously carved by himself from a piece of red steatite of an interesting character, and which they all tell me is procured somewhere between this place and the Falls of St. Anthony, on the head waters of the Mississippi. George Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, pp. 29–31
Joseph Henry Sharp 1859-1953  Blackfoot Indian Girl, 1905

Thursday, August 23, 2018

1607 Settling Early Massachusetts & New England

Roger Williams and the Narragansetts - a 19C engraving, after a painting by A. H. Wray

During the religious upheavals of the 16C, a body of men & women called Puritans sought to reform the Established Church of England from within. Essentially, they demanded that the rituals & structures associated with Roman Catholicism be replaced by simpler Protestant forms of faith & worship. Their reformist ideas, by destroying the unity of the state church, threatened to divide the people & to undermine royal authority.

In 1607 a small group of Separatists -- a radical sect of Puritans who did not believe the Established Church could ever be reformed -- departed for Leyden, Holland, where the Dutch granted them asylum. However, the Calvinist Dutch restricted them mainly to low-paid laboring jobs. Some members of the congregation grew dissatisfied with this discrimination & resolved to emigrate to the New World.

In 1620, a group of Leyden Puritans secured a land patent from the Virginia Company, & a group of 101 men, women & children set out for Virginia on board the Mayflower. A storm sent them far north & they landed in New England on Cape Cod. Believing themselves outside the jurisdiction of any organized government, the men drafted a formal agreement to abide by "just & equal laws" drafted by leaders of their own choosing. This was the Mayflower Compact.

In December the Mayflower reached Plymouth harbor; the Pilgrims began to build their settlement during the winter. Nearly half the colonists died of exposure & disease, but neighboring Wampanoag Indians provided information that would sustain them: how to grow maize. By the next fall, the Pilgrims had a plentiful crop of corn, & a growing trade based on furs & lumber.

A new wave of immigrants arrived on the shores of Massachusetts Bay in 1630 bearing a grant from King Charles I to establish a colony. Many of them were Puritans whose religious practices were increasingly prohibited in England. Their leader, John Winthrop, openly set out to create a "city upon a hill" in the New World. By this he meant a place where Puritans would live in strict accordance with their religious beliefs.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was to play a significant role in the development of the entire New England region, in part because Winthrop & his Puritan colleagues were able to bring their charter with them. Thus the authority for the colony's government resided in Massachusetts, not in England.

Under the charter's provisions, power rested with the General Court, which was made up of "freemen" required to be members of the Puritan Church. This guaranteed that the Puritans would be the dominant political as well as religious force in the colony. It was the General Court which elected the governor. For most of the next generation, this would be John Winthrop.

The rigid orthodoxy of the Puritan rule was not to everyone's liking. One of the first to challenge the General Court openly was a young clergyman named Roger Williams, who objected to the colony's seizure of Indian lands & its relations with the Church of England.

Banished from Massachusetts Bay, he purchased land from the Narragansett Indians in what is now Providence, Rhode Island, in 1636. There he set up the first American colony where complete separation of church & state as well as freedom of religion was practiced.

So-called heretics like Williams were not the only ones who left Massachusetts. Orthodox Puritans, seeking better lands & opportunities, soon began leaving Massachusetts Bay Colony. News of the fertility of the Connecticut River Valley, for instance, attracted the interest of farmers having a difficult time with poor land. By the early 1630s, many were ready to brave the danger of Indian attack to obtain level ground & deep, rich soil. These new communities often eliminated church membership as a prerequisite for voting, thereby extending the franchise to ever larger numbers of men.

At the same time, other settlements began cropping up along the New Hampshire & Maine coasts, as more & more immigrants sought the land & liberty the New World seemed to offer.

From Outline of U.S. History, a publication of the U.S. Department of State copied from the website of the United States Information Agency, where it was published in November 2005.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

George Catlin (1796-1872) A Cheyenne Chief, His Wife, and a Medicine Man

1860s George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Cheyenne Chief, His Wife, and a Medicine Man

The earliest known written record of the Cheyenne comes from the mid-17C, when a group of Cheyenne visited the French Fort Crevecoeur, near present-day Peoria, Illinois. The Cheyenne at this time lived between the Mississippi River & Mille Lacs Lake in present-day Minnesota. The Cheyenne economy was based on the collection of wild rice & hunting, especially of bison, which lived on the prairies 70–80 miles west of the Cheyenne villages.

According to tribal history, during the 17C, the Cheyenne had been driven by the Assiniboine (“rebels”) from the Great Lakes region to present-day Minnesota & North Dakota, where they established villages. The most prominent of the ancient Cheyenne villages is Biesterfeldt Village, in present-dat eastern North Dakota along the Sheyenne River. The tribal history also relates that they 1st reached the Missouri River in 1676. A more recent analysis of early records posits that at least some of the Cheyenne remained in the Mille Lac region of Minnesota until about 1765, when the Ojibwe defeated the Dakota with firearms - pushing the Cheyenne, in turn, to the Minnesota River, where they were reported in 1766.

On the Missouri River, the Cheyenne came into contact with the neighboring Mandan, Hidatsa ( "people who have soil houses"), & Arikara people (Ónoneo'o), and shared cultural characteristics. They were first of the later Plains tribes into the Black Hills & Powder River Country. About 1730, they introduced the horse to Lakota bands (Ho'óhomo'eo'o - “the invited ones (to Cheyenne lands i.e. the Black Hills)”). Conflict with migrating Lakota & Ojibwe peoples forced the Cheyenne further west; & they, in turn, pushed the Kiowa to the south.

By 1776, the Lakota had overwhelmed the Cheyenne & taken over much of their territory near the Black Hills. In 1804, Lewis & Clark visited a surviving Cheyenne village in North Dakota. Such European explorers learned many different names for the Cheyenne, not recognizing that the different segments were forming a unified tribe.

The Cheyenne Nation reportedly is descended from 2 related tribes, the Tsétsêhéstâhese/Tsitsistas (Cheyenne proper) and Só'taeo'o/Só'taétaneo'o (better known as Suhtai or Sutaio) who may have joined the Tsétsêhéstâhese in the early 18C. Their oral history relays that both tribal peoples are characterized & represented by two cultural heroes or prophets who received divine articles from their god Ma'heo'o.

After being pushed south & westward by the Lakota, the unified Cheyenne people began to create & expand a new territory of their own. Sometime around 1811 the Cheyenne made a formal alliance with the Arapaho people (Hetanevo'eo'o – "People of the Sky“, also known as Héstanėheo'o – “people, mankind, tribe of people”), which would remain strong throughout their history. The alliance helped the Cheyenne expand their territory which stretched from southern Montana, through most of Wyoming, the eastern half of Colorado, far western Nebraska, & far western Kansas. As early as 1820, traders & explorers reported contact with Cheyenne at present-day Denver, Colorado & on the Arkansas River. They were probably hunting & trading in that area earlier. They may have migrated to the south for winter. The Hairy Rope band is reputed to have been the first band to move south, capturing wild horses as far south as the Cimarron River Valley. In response to the construction of Bent’s Fort by Charles Bent, a friend of the Cheyenne who established a popular trading area for the Cheyenne, a large portion of the tribe moved further south & remained around the area. The other part of the tribe continued to live along the headwaters of the North Platte & Yellowstone rivers. The groups became the Southern Cheyenne, known as Sówoníă (Southerners) & the Northern Cheyenne, known as O'mǐ'sǐs (Eaters). The separation of the tribe was only a geographic & the two groups had regular & close contact.

In the southern portion of their territory, the Cheyenne & Arapaho warred with the allied Comanche, Kiowa, & Plains Apache. Numerous battles were fought including a notable fight along the Washita River in 1836, with the Kiowa resulting in the death of 48 Cheyenne warriors of the Bowstring society. In summer 1838, many Cheyenne & Arapaho attacked a camp of Kiowa & Comanche along Wolf Creek in Oklahoma bausing heavy losses on both sides. Conflict with the Comanche, Kiowa, & Plains Apache ended in 1840, when the tribes made an alliance with each other. The new alliance allowed the Cheyenne to enter the Llano Estacado in the Texas & Oklahoma panhandles & northeastern New Mexico to hunt bison & trade. Their expansion in the south & alliance with the Kiowa led to their first raid into Mexico in 1853. The raid ended in disaster with heavy resistance from Mexican lancers, causing all but 3 of the war party being killed. To the north the Cheyenne made a strong alliance with the Lakota Sioux, which allowed them to expand their territory into part of their former lands around the Black Hills. They managed to escape the smallpox epidemics, which swept across the plains from white settlements in 1837-39, by heading into the Rocky Mountains; but they were greatly affected by the Cholera epidemic in 1849. Contact with Euro-Americans was mostly light, with mountain men, traders, explorers, treaty makers, & painters.  One of those painters was George Catlin (1796-1872).

George Catlin’s Obsession...Did his work exploit or advance the American Indian?
By Bruce Watson  Smithsonian Magazine December 2002 

"One day in 1805, a 9-year-old boy exploring the woods along the Susquehanna River in southcentral New York came face-to-face with an Oneida Indian. The boy froze, terrified. Towering over him, the Indian lifted a hand in friendship. The boy never forgot the encounter or the man’s kindness. The experience may well have shaped George Catlin’s lifework...part showman, part artist—who devoted his life to preserving, in his words, “the looks & customs of the vanishing races of native man in America.”

Catlin painted "Indian rituals & landscapes of the prairie he traveled by steamboat, horseback & canoe in the 1830s...he displayed them (1837-1850) in salons along the Eastern Seaboard & in London, Paris & Brussels. The artist, who was both heralded & criticized while he was alive, died in 1872 wondering what would happen to his gallery...Though not the first artist to paint American Indians, Catlin was the first to picture them so extensively in their own territories & one of the few to portray them as fellow human beings rather than savages. His more realistic approach grew out of his appreciation for a people who, he wrote, “had been invaded, their morals corrupted, their lands wrested from them, their customs changed, & therefore lost to the world.” Such empathy was uncommon in 1830, the year the federal Indian Removal Act forced Southeastern tribes to move to what is now Oklahoma along the disastrous “Trail of Tears.”

"Catlin had little or no formal training as an artist, but he grew up hearing tales of Indians from settlers & from his own mother, who at age 7 had been abducted, along with her mother, by Iroquois during a raid along the Susquehanna in 1778. They were soon released unharmed, & Polly Catlin often told her son about the experience.

"Despite a talent for drawing, Catlin (the fifth of 14 children) followed the importunings of his father, Putnam Catlin, & studied law. In 1820, he set up a practice near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he had been born in 1796 (though the family moved to a farm 40 miles away in New York when he was an infant). But he found himself sketching judges, juries & “culprits” in court, & after a few years he sold his law books & moved to Philadelphia to try his hand as an artist.

"He earned commissions to paint the leading figures of the day, including Sam Houston & Dolley Madison, but struggled to find a larger purpose to his work. “My mind was continually reaching for some branch or enterprise of the art, on which to devote a whole lifetime of enthusiasm,” he wrote in his memoirs. He found it circa 1828, when a delegation of Indians stopped in Philadelphia en route to Washington, D.C. Captivated by “their classic beauty,” Catlin then began searching for Indian subjects. He felt that “civilization”—particularly whiskey & smallpox—was wiping them out, & he vowed that “nothing short of the loss of my life, shall prevent me from visiting their country, & of becoming their historian.” Although recently married to Clara Gregory, the daughter of a prominent Albany, New York, family, Catlin packed up his paints in 1830, left his new wife & headed west. (The Catlins, by all accounts, adored each other, & Catlin was constantly torn between devotion to his family, which in time would include four children, & his artistic ambitions.)

"St. Louis was then the edge of the Western frontier, & Catlin wasn’t there long before he wrangled a meeting with the city’s most illustrious citizen, Gen. William Clark. Having already explored the Louisiana Purchase with Meriwether Lewis, Clark was then the government’s Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Western tribes. Catlin presented his early portraits to the general & asked for Clark’s assistance in making contact with Indians in the West. Clark was skeptical at first, but Catlin convinced him of the sincerity of his quest. That summer, Clark took Catlin some 400 miles up the Mississippi River to FortCrawford, where several tribes—the Sauk, Fox & Sioux among them—were having a council. Surrounded by gruff soldiers & somber Indians, whose customs were largely a mystery, Catlin took out his brushes & went to work. He would stay in the West six years, though he returned most winters to his family.

"During those years, he painted 300 portraits & nearly 175 landscapes & ritual scenes. Back in New York City in 1837, he displayed them salon-style, stacked floor to ceiling, one above the other—row after row of faces identified by name & number...More than a century & a half later, there remains something startling & immediate about the faces. At first glance, they seem condemning, as if daring us to look at them without guilt. But after contemplating them awhile, they appear less forbidding. Catlin called his gallery a “collection of Nature’s dignitaries,” & dignity indeed makes certain individuals stand out. A stately Chief Kee-o-kuk of the Sauk & Fox proudly holds tomahawk, blanket & staff. La-dóo-ke-a (Buffalo Bull), a Pawnee warrior, poses commandingly in full ceremonial paint. Catlin’s landscapes are equally evocative, depicting virgin rivers & rolling hills as if from the air.

"Throughout Catlin’s career, journalists tended to praise his work even as some art critics dismissed him as an “American primitive,” calling his artistry “deficient in drawing, perspective & finish.” More controversial was his attitude toward people most Americans then regarded as savages. Catlin denounced the term, calling it “an abuse of the word, & the people to whom it is applied.” He praised Indians as “honest, hospitable, faithful . . . ” & criticized the government & fur traders alike for their treatment of natives. Indian society, he wrote, “has become degraded & impoverished, & their character changed by civilized teaching, & their worst passions inflamed . . . by the abuses practiced amongst them.”

"If Catlin alive stirred controversy for his championing of Native Americans, today he is as likely to be seen as an exploiter of them. “A native person is challenged, I think, not to feel on some level a profound resentment toward Catlin,” says W. Richard West, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian & himself a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho tribes. “His obsession with depicting Indians has an extremely invasive undertone to it.” As for Catlin’s relentless promotion of his gallery, West adds, “There’s no question . . . he was exploiting Indians & the West as a commodity. On the other hand, he was far ahead of his time in his empathy for Indians. Catlin swam against the tide to bring to light information about the Indians that depicts them accurately as worthy human beings & worthy cultures.”

"And what did the men & women who posed for Catlin think of their portraits? Reactions to Catlin’s work varied from tribe to tribe. Sioux medicine men predicted dire consequences for those whose souls he captured on canvas, yet Blackfoot medicine men readily allowed themselves to be painted. The Mandan, awed by Catlin’s ability to render likenesses, called him Medicine White Man. Sometimes his portraits stirred up trouble. Once among the Hunkpapa Sioux on the Missouri River, he painted Chief Little Bear in profile. When the portrait was nearly finished, a rival saw it & taunted, “[The artist] knows you are but half a man, for he has painted but half of your face!” The chief ignored the affront, & when the portrait was done, he presented Catlin with a buckskin shirt decorated with porcupine quills. But the insult led to an inter-tribal war that claimed many lives. Some Sioux blamed Catlin & condemned him to death, but by then he had moved farther upriver.

"In his six years on the prairie, Catlin survived debilitating fevers that killed his military escorts. (He later touted his travels in long-winded accounts published as travelogues.) Though most of his early work was undertaken within a few hundred miles of St. Louis, one journey took him to a place few white men had gone before. In the spring of 1832, he secured a berth on the steamboat Yellowstone, about to embark from St. Louis on a journey 2,000 miles up the Missouri River. Steaming into each Indian settlement, the Yellowstone fired its cannon, terrifying natives, who fell to the ground or sacrificed animals to appease their gods. Catlin was mesmerized by the “soulmelting scenery.” He watched great herds of buffalo, antelope & elk roaming “a vast country of green fields, where the men are all red.” In three months on the Upper Missouri, working with great speed, Catlin executed no fewer than 135 paintings, sketching figures & faces, leaving details to be finished later. In July, near what is now Bismarck, North Dakota, he became one of the few white men ever to observe the torturous fertility ritual of the Mandan tribe known as O-kee-pa, which required young men to be suspended from the top of the medicine lodge by ropes anchored to barbs skewered in their chests. When displayed five years later, Catlin’s paintings of the ceremony drew skepticism. “The scenes described by Catlin existed almost entirely in the fertile imagination of that gentleman,” a scholarly journal observed. Though Catlin was unable to corroborate his observations—smallpox had all but wiped out the Mandan not long after his visit—subsequent research confirmed his stark renderings.

"In 1836, despite the vehement protests of Sioux elders, Catlin insisted on visiting a sacred, red-stone quarry in southwestern Minnesota that provided the Sioux with the bowls for their ceremonial pipes. No Indian would escort him, & fur traders, angry about his letters in newspapers condemning them for corrupting the Indians, also refused. So Catlin & a companion traveled 360 miles round-trip on horseback. The unique red pipestone he found there today bears the name catlinite. “Man feels here the thrilling sensation, the force of illimitable freedom,” Catlin wrote, “there is poetry in the very air of this place.”

"Except for his run-in over the quarry, Catlin maintained excellent relations with his various hosts. They escorted him through hostile areas & invited him to feasts of dog meat, beaver tail & buffalo tongue. “No Indian ever betrayed me, struck me with a blow, or stole from me a shilling’s worth of my property. . . ,” he later wrote. By 1836, his last year in the West, Catlin had visited 48 tribes. He would spend the rest of his life trying to market his work, leading him to the brink of ruin.

"On September 23, 1837, the New YorkCommercial Advertiser announced the opening of an exhibit featuring lectures by Catlin, Indian portraits, “as well as Splendid Costumes—Paintings of their villages—Dances—Buffalo Hunts—Religious Ceremonies, etc.” Admission at Clinton Hall in New York City was 50 cents, & crowds of people lined up to pay it. When the show closed after three months, the artist took it to cities along the East Coast. But after a year, attendance began to dwindle, & Catlin fell on hard times. In 1837, he tried to sell his gallery to the federal government, but Congress dawdled. So in November 1839, with Clara expecting their second child & promising to join him the following year, Catlin packed his gallery, including a buffalo-hide tepee & two live bears, & sailed for England.

"In London, Brussels, & at the Louvre in Paris, he packed houses with his “Wild West” show. He hired local actors to whoop in feathers & war paint & pose in tableaux vivants. In time he was joined by several groups of Indians (21 Ojibwe & 14 Iowa) who were touring Europe with promoters. Such luminaries as George Sand, Victor Hugo & Charles Baudelaire admired Catlin’s artistry. But general audiences preferred the live Indians, especially after Catlin convinced the Ojibwe & the Iowa to reenact hunts, dances, even scalpings. In 1843, Catlin was presented to Queen Victoria in London, & two years later, to King Louis-Philippe in France. But renting halls, transporting eight tons of paintings & artifacts, & providing for his Indian entourage—as well as his family, which by 1844 included three daughters & a son—kept the painter perpetually in debt. In 1845, in Paris, Clara, his devoted wife of 17 years, contracted pneumonia & died. Then the Ojibwe got smallpox. Two died; the rest went back to the plains. The next year his 3-year-old son, George, succumbed to typhoid.

"In 1848, Catlin & his daughters returned to London, where he tried to drum up interest in installing his gallery on a ship—a floating “Museum of Mankind”—that would visit seaports around the globe. But his dream came to nothing. He lectured on California’s gold rush & sold copies of his paintings, using the originals as collateral for loans. In 1852, his funds exhausted, the 56-year-old Catlin was thrown into a London debtor’s prison. His brother-in-law came to take Catlin’s young daughters back to America. The dejected artist later would write that he had “no other means on earth than my hands & my brush, & less than half a life, at best, before me.” He again offered to sell his gallery (which Senator Daniel Webster had called “more important to us than the ascertaining of the South Pole, or anything that can be discovered in the Dead Sea . . . ”) to the U.S. government. But Congress thought the price too steep, even when Catlin lowered it from $65,000 to $25,000. Finally, late that summer, Joseph Harrison, a wealthy Pennsylvania railroad tycoon for whom Catlin had secured a painting by the American historical artist Benjamin West, paid Catlin’s debts, acquired his gallery for $20,000 & shipped it from London to Philadelphia. It sat there in Harrison’s boiler factory, while Catlin—who had repaired to Paris with a handful of watercolors & a few copies of his originals that he had hidden from his creditors—set out to rebuild his life, & his gallery. From 1852 to 1860, he bounced between Europe, the Pacific Northwest & South & Central America painting Indians from the Amazon to Patagonia. Or did he? Some scholars, dubious because of the wildness of the accounts & the lack of documentation, doubt that he left Europe at all. In any case, by 1870 the dogged artist had completed 300 paintings of South American Indians & had re-created from sketches some 300 copies of his original Indian Gallery portraits. “Now I am George Catlin again,” he wrote his brother just before returning to America in 1870. He exhibited his “Cartoon Gallery,” as he called the copies & his South American & other later works, in 1871 in New York City, but it did not draw crowds. The show, however, earned Catlin a powerful ally when it moved to the Smithsonian Institution later that year.

Although Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry thought Catlin’s paintings had “little value as works of art,” he needed them: a fire had just destroyed most of the Smithsonian’s collection of Indian paintings (works by John Mix Stanley & Charles Bird King). Henry offered Catlin both support & a home. For nine months, the artist, in his mid-70s, white-bearded & walking with a cane, lived in the Smithsonian Castle. In November 1872, Catlin left Washington to be with his daughters in New Jersey. He died there two months later at age 76. Among his final words were, “What will happen to my gallery?” Seven years after his death, Harrison’s widow gave the works acquired by her husband (some 450 of Catlin’s original paintings & enough buckskin & fur, war clubs, pipes, & more, to fill a third of a freight car) to the Smithsonian. The gallery was displayed there for seven years starting in 1883...his Cartoon Collection, which was eventually returned to his daughters & later purchased by collector Paul Mellon, who gave most of it to the National Gallery of Art..."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

1607 The 1st 102 Colonists arrive in Virginia, encounter disease, starvation, & Native Americans - 32 Europeans Survive

In 1607, the British actually establish their first American colony at Jamestown named for King James I, who ascended to the throne only 4 years earlier. Virginia was named for England's virgin Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603), who never married. More on Queen Elizabeth I to follow here. England was financially pressed following years of war with Spain.
Trading with the Indians by Stanley King for The National Park Service
To raise funds to explore the New World, to bring back gold and other riches, and to seek the Northwest Passage to the Middle East and India, James I grants a proprietary charter for the Chesapeake region to two competing branches of the Virginia Company, which were supported by private investors--the Plymouth Company and the London Company.


April 30
The fleet heading for Virginia leaves England on December 20, 1606.  On April 30, 1607, ships arrived at Cape Comfort with the original group of settlers; a vanguard boat stopped at Kecoughtan where the natives welcomed the English.

May 13
"The thirteenth day, we came to our seating place in Paspihas Countrey, some eight miles from the point of Land, which I made mention before: where our shippes doe lie so neere the shoare that they are moored to the Trees in six fathom water." George Percy (Tyler 1952:15)

May 14
"The fourteenth day, we landed all our men, which were set to worke about the fortification, and others some to watch and ward as it was convenient." George Percy (Tyler 1952:15)

"the Councell contrive the Fort..." "The Presidents overweening jealousie would admit no exercise at armes, or fortification but the boughs of trees cast together in the forme of a halfe moon by the extraordinary paines and diligence of Captain Kendall." John Smith, Proceedings (Barbour 1964:206)

May 14+
Newport, Smith, Percy, Archer, and others spent 6 days exploring the James River up to the falls & Powhatan's village.

May 26
"Hereupon the President was contented the Fort should be pallisadoed, the ordinance mounted, his men armed and exercised, for many were the assaults and Ambuscadoes of the Salvages...." John Smith, Proceedings (Barbour 1964)

200 Armed Indians attack Jamestown, killing 1 and wounding 11.

May 28
"we laboured, pallozadoing our fort." Gabriel Archer (Arber)

June 4
"by breake of Day. 3. Of them had most adventurously stollen under our Bullwark and hidden themselves in the long grasse...." Gabriel Archer (Arber)

June 10
John Smith released from arrest and sworn in as member of the Council.

June 15
"The fifteenth of June we had built and finished our Fort, which was triangle wise, having three Bulwarkes, at every corner, like a halfe Moone, and foure or five pieces of Artillerie mounted in them. We had made our selves sufficiently strong for these Savages. We had also sowne most of our Corne on two Mountaines." George Percy (Tyler 1952:19)

June 22
Newport sails for England.

June 27
"... our extreme toile in bearing and planting pallisadoes." John Smith, Proceedings (Barbour 1964:210)
Captain John Smith 1579-1632

September 10
President Edward Maria Wingfield deposed from the governing council.  Captain John Ratliffe elected in his place.

Early December
John Smith captured by Opechancanough (1554-1646) who was a tribal chief of the Powhatan Confederacy of what is now Virginia, and its leader from sometime after 1618, until his death in 1646. His name meant "He whose Soul is White" in the Algonquian language.

Of the original 105 settlers, only 32 survived the first year.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Theodor de Bry 1588 Embellished Engravings of Copied Images of Native Americans - Man & Woman Eating

1588 Theodor de Bry 1528-1598 Native American Man and Woman Eating  A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia

Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was an engraver & publisher, famous for his depictions of early European expeditions to the Americas. In 1588 Theodor de Bry & his sons published a new, illustrated edition of Thomas Harriot's 1588 A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia about the first English settlements in North America (in North Carolina). His illustrations were loosely based on the 1585 eye-witness watercolor paintings of English colonist & artist John White.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

1611-1624 Native Americans & The Evolution of the Virginia Colony

Almost from the start, investors in the Virginia Company in England were unhappy with the accomplishments of their Jamestown colonists. They therefore sought a new charter, which the king granted in May 1609. They took immediate steps to put the company on a sounder financial footing by selling shares valued at 12 1/2, 25, and 50 pounds (English monetary unit, originally equivalent to one pound of silver). Investors were promised a dividend from whatever gold, land, or other valuable commodities the Company amassed after seven years.
From The History and the Present State of Virginia, Book III, Of the Indians, their Religion, Laws, and Customs, in War and Peace.  Beverley, Robert, ca. 1673-1722.

Meanwhile, the charter allowed the Company to make its own laws and regulations, subject only to their compatibility with English law. To avoid the disputes that had characterized Virginia in its first years, the Company gave full authority and nearly dictatorial powers to the colony's governor. These changes were nearly too little and too late, for Jamestown was just then experiencing its "starving time." The Company, however, was bent on persevering and sent a new batch of ships and colonists in 1611. Over the next five years, Sir Thomas Gates and then Sir Thomas Dale governed the colony with iron fists via the "Lawes Devine, Morall, and Martiall."

The harsh regimes of the Virginia governors were not especially attractive to potential colonists. What was more, the colonists who did go to Virginia often did not have the skills and knowledge to help the colony prosper. The colonists not only found little of value, they were remarkably unable even to feed themselves. As a result, huge numbers of colonists perished from disease (many of which they brought with them), unsanitary conditions, and malnutrition. Between 1614 and 1618 or so, potential colonists were much more attracted to the West Indies and Bermuda than they were Virginia.

By 1618, the Virginia Company was forced to change course again. The Company had not solved the problem of profitability, nor that of settlers' morale. Sir Edwin Sandys became Company Treasurer and embarked on a series of reforms. He believed that the manufacturing enterprises the Company had begun were failing due to want of manpower. He embarked on a policy of granting sub-patents to land, which encouraged groups and wealthier individuals to go to Virginia. He sought to reward investors and so distributed 100 acres of land to each adventurer. He also distributed 50 acres to each person who paid his or her own way and 50 acres more for each additional person they brought along. This was known as the Virginia headright system.

Finally, Sandys thought it essential to reform the colony's governing structure. He hit upon the idea of convening an assembly in the colony, whose representatives would be elected by inhabitants. The assembly would have full power to enact laws on all matters relating to the colony. Of course, these laws could be vetoed by either the governor or the Company in London.

It may be said that some things improved, while others did not. With the experiments of John Rolfe, the colony finally discovered a staple product--tobacco. The colonists wanted to plant tobacco because it was a cash crop, even though the King opposed the use of the weed. But the Company constantly discouraged the cultivation of tobacco because its production seduced the colonists away from planting corn.

The colony also continued to face the problem of lack of laborers and inability to feed itself. The ultimate answer to the labor problem was ominously foreshadowed in a little-noticed event that Rolfe described to Sandys in 1619: the arrival of a Dutch man-of-war carrying a group of captive Africans, for by the end of the century, African slave labor would become the colony's economic and social foundation. Indian relations, which seemed quiet for a time, finally spelled the end to the Virginia Company.

In 1622, Indians rose up and massacred a large number of Virginia colonists. This led to an inquiry into Company affairs and finally the revocation of its charter.

See Library of Congress here.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Theodor de Bry 1588 Embellished Engravings of Copied Images of Native Americans - Markings

1588 Theodor de Bry 1528-1598 Native American Markings  A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia

Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was an engraver & publisher, famous for his depictions of early European expeditions to the Americas. In 1588 Theodor de Bry & his sons published a new, illustrated edition of Thomas Harriot's 1588 A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia about the first English settlements in North America (in North Carolina). His illustrations were loosely based on the 1585 eye-witness watercolor paintings of English colonist & artist John White.

Friday, August 17, 2018

1609 Speech by Powhatan, as recorded by John Smith

Chief Powhatan was father of Pocahontas & the ruler of the tribes that lived in the area where English colonists founded the Jamestown settlement in 1607. Powhatan was the leader of the Powhatan federation of Indians in Virginia in the early 17C. During his life, Powhatan proved that he could overcome most obstacles to a peaceful co-existence with the colonists. However, he was not able to change the belief that the colonists were superior to the Indians.

Why will you take by force what you may obtain by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war? . . . We are unarmed, and willing to give you what you ask, if you come in a friendly manner. . . .

I am not so simple as not to know it is better to eat good meat, sleep comfortably, live quietly with my women and children, laugh and be merry with the English, and being their friend, trade for their copper and hatchets, than to run away from them.  

Take away your guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy, or you may die in the same manner.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Theodor de Bry 1588 Embellished Engravings of Copied Images of Native Americans - Around a Fire

1588 Theodor de Bry 1528-1598 Native Americans Around a Fire  A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia

Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was an engraver & publisher, famous for his depictions of early European expeditions to the Americas. In 1588 Theodor de Bry & his sons published a new, illustrated edition of Thomas Harriot's 1588 A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia about the first English settlements in North America (in North Carolina). His illustrations were loosely based on the 1585 eye-witness watercolor paintings of English colonist & artist John White.