Sunday, March 31, 2019

A typical Peace Commission in Session by Cassilly Adams (1843-1921)

Cassilly Adams (American artist, 1843-1921) A typical Peace Commission in Session

A descendant of President John Adams, Kassilli or Cassilly Adams (1843-1921) was born  in Zanesville, Ohio. His father, William Adams, was an amateur painter. Young Cassilly studied painting at the Academy of Art in Boston and Cincinnati Art School. During the Civil War he served in the US Navy.

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.

By 1880, Adams was living in St. Louis. In 1884, the artist created a monumental canvas depicting the Battle of the Little Bighorn (death of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment of the US Army and its famous commander George Custer) - "Custer's Last Fight." The painting was exhibited across the country, and then was purchased by the company "Anheuser-Busch" and later donated to the Seventh Cavalry. After the restoration of the original during the Great Depression, it was exhibited in the officers' club at Fort Bliss (Texas), and June 13, 1946 was burned in a fire. Despite the success of "Custer's Last Fight," Adams remained a relatively unknown artist. He focused on the image of Indians American West Plains life, worked as an illustrator, a farmer. He died Kassilli Adams May 8, 1921 in Traders Point near Indianapolis.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) An Aged Minatarree Chief and His Family

George Catlin (1796 –1872) An Aged Minatarree Chief and His Family

Hidatsa

The Hidatsa are a Siouan people.  They are called the Minnetaree by their allies. The Hidatsa are a matrilineal people, with descent determined through the maternal line. As the early Mandan and Hidatsa heavily intermarried, children were taught to speak the language of their mother, but understand the dialect of either tribe.

 For hundreds of years the Knife River area in present North Dakota was the home of the Hidatsa and their ancestors. The first villages dates back to the 13th century. Accounts of recorded history in the early 18th century identify three closely related village groups to which the term Hidatsa is applied. What is now known as the Hidatsa tribe is the amalgamation of these three groups, which had discrete histories and spoke different dialects; they came together only after settling on the Missouri River (Awati /Awáati).

The Hidatsa proper or Hiraacá / Hiratsa ("People of the Willows"), largest of the three, were a confederation of numerous nomadic Hidatsa bands from the north, who separated from the Awaxawi/Amahami in what is now western Minnesota. First they settled to the north, then later moved south to Devil's Lake. In their travels they met the Mandan (Adahpakoa / Aróxbagua) (sometimes also called: Araxbakua Itawatish) and then moved westward and settled with these distant relatives north of the Knife River, where they adopted agriculture and permanent villages. Later they moved to the mouth of Knife River. Their territory ranged upstream along the Missouri River, its tributary regions to the west, and the Mouse River and Devils Lake regions to the northeast. They were initially part of those who would become the River Crow. The Hidatsa called the Crow Nation Gixaa'iccá / Gixáa-iccá ("Those Who Pout Over Tripe").

The Hidatsa originally lived in Miri xopash / Mirixubáash / Miniwakan, the Devils Lake region of North Dakota, before being pushed southwestward by the Lakota (Itahatski / Idaahácgi). As they migrated west, the Hidatsa came across the Mandan at the mouth of the Heart River. The two groups formed an alliance, and settled into an amiable division of territory along the area's rivers.

Prior to the epidemic of 1782, they had few enemies. The Hidatsa hunted upstream from the earthlodge villages at and below the Knife River. Here, between the Knife and Yellowstone River (Mii Ciiri Aashi /Mi'cíiriaashish), they were numerous enough to withstand attacks of the Assiniboine (Hidusidi / Hirushíiri), who hunted in the area but rarely wintered on the Missouri River, as part of the mighty Iron Confederacy (which was dominated by the Cree (Sahe / Shahíi) and Assiniboine) they were an opponent the Hidatsa had to pay attention to.  A remarkable siege of the village Big Hidatsa by the Sioux around 1790 ended with a major victory for the inhabitants. They killed 100 or more retreating Sioux in a counter attack, according to the sources.

The Hidatsa played a central role in the Great Plains Indian trading networks based on an advantageous geographical position combined with a surplus from agriculture and craft. Historical sources show that the Hidatsa villages were visited by Cree, Assiniboine, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Plains Apache and Comanche. White traders from the north, like North West Company man David Thompson, began to visit the Hidatsa and Mandan villages during the 1790s.  In 1800, a group of Hidatsa abducted Sacagawea and several other girls in a battle that resulted in death among the Shoshone (Maabúgsharuxbaaga) ("Snake People") of four men, four women and several boys. She was taken as a captive to a Hidatsa village near present-day Washburn, North Dakota.

In 1804, Lewis and Clark came to the Hidatsa (they referred to them as the Minnetaree in their records) in three villages at the mouth of the Knife River, and the Mandan in two villages a few miles lower down on the Missouri River.  In July 1825, the "Grovonters [Hidatsas] came into council & treaties of peace & Trade & friendship were concluded" with the United States. The tribe – in the document called "Belantse-Etoa or Minitaree" – also recognized the supremacy of the United States, whether it understood it or not. The peace treaty was never broken. "We have always been friends to the whites", emphasized Wolf Chief in 1888, and it never came to fights with the United States Army.

Tribal appearance and customs have been documented by the visits of two artists of the American west. The allied tribes were first visited by American George Catlin, who remained with them several months in 1832. He was followed by Karl Bodmer, a Swiss painter accompanying German explorer Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied on a Missouri River expedition from 1832 to 1834. Catlin and Bodmer's works record the Hidatsa and Mandan societies, where were rapidly changing under pressure from encroaching settlers, infectious disease, and government restraints.

In the spring of 1834, the Awaxawi and Awatixa settled in Big Hidatsa by necessity. The Sioux had attacked the Hidatsa villages and reduced "the two lower ones to ashes".[13] Both before and after the smallpox epidemic in 1837, bloody fights took place between the Hidatsa and foes like the Assiniboine and the Yanktonai Sioux. Each tribe gave and took. The smallpox epidemic of 1837–1838 reduced the Hidatsa to about 500 people. The remaining Mandan and Hidatsa united, and moved farther up the Missouri in 1845. "Bands of Sioux waylaid hunting parties or came prowling around our villages to steal horses", explained Buffalo Bird Woman the reason for leaving their native land through centuries along Knife River. They eventually settled at Like-a-Fishhook Village (Mua iruckup hehisa atis, Mu'a-idu'skupe-hi'cec) near Fort Berthold, a trading post. They were joined there by the Arikara (Adakadaho / Aragárahu) in 1862.

The Hidatsa tribe was one party in the Treaty of Fort Laramie, 1851. Along with the Mandan and the Arikara, they got a treaty on land north of Heart River. Eleven years later, the Three Tribes would not inhabit a single summer village in the treaty area. The Lakota had more or less annexed it, although a participant in the peace treaty.

Four Bears, outstanding Hidatsa war chief after the smallpox epidemic of 1837, (was one of the people who started Like-A-Fishhook Village for the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara – and is not to mistaken with the famous Mandan chief Mato-tope (Four Bears)), was killed along with other villagers by attacking Yankton Sioux in 1861. In December 1862, some Sioux burned parts of Like a Fishhook Village and they may have lifted cached corn at the same time. Attacks made on their homes like this made the Three Tribes call for the United States Army to intervene. Already in 1857, the Hidatsa chief Long Hair had accused the Sioux of trying to be "the strongest and most powerful people on the Earth."  The Three Tribes sold a segment of land to the United States in 1870. The last treaty that diminished the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation was signed in 1886 (ratified in 1891).

Friday, March 29, 2019

An Indian War Party by Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902)

Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) An Indian War Party

Matthew Biagell explains in his book Albert Bierstadt that,"Athough Bierstadt made probing studies of individual Indians during his travels in the West, he usually generalized their appearances & activities in his paintings. He placed them, as he placed European peasants in earlier works, in the middle distance, so that we witness their presence in a landscape setting rather than focus on their movements."

Many of his landscapes including Native Americans are the western equivalent of his European generalized landscapes & reveals Bierstadt's consistent attitude toward subject matter regardless of its locale human subjects are engaged in seemingly unrelated activities. His paintings, bathed in a golden glow, often suggest nostalgia for a previous age when Native Americans were thought to have lived harmoniously with nature. Here they are not wily, wicked, or predatory, but are engaged instead in peaceful domestic industry. Works such as this are obviously part of the broad western European tradition of Arcadian scenes, but in its American version the tradition assumes a particular complexity & ambivalence. His painting including Natives often portray the nobility of the Indians before their contact with Europeans & subsequent debasement. Paintings displaying this attitude undoubtedly provided the public with the images it wanted to see, especially during the years Indians were systematically being driven from their lands. Suchromanticized paintings might also be considered retardataire; the Indian, noble or otherwise, no longer engaged many serious 19C writers after the 1850s, & precise anthropological & linguistic analyses of Indian tribes were already being included in the Pacific railroad reports by that time.

Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) was best known for these 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.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Sioux Chief, His Daughter, and a Warrior

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Sioux Chief, His Daughter, and a Warrior

The Sioux are groups of Native American tribes & First Nations peoples in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or to any of the nation's many language dialects. The name "Sioux" was adopted in English by the 1760s from French. It is abbreviated from Nadouessioux, first attested by Jean Nicolet in 1640.

The Santee, also known as the Eastern Sioux, were Dakota speakers & comprised the Mdewkanton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute, & Sisseton. The Yankton, who spoke Nakota, included the Yankton & Yanktonai. The Teton, also referred to as the Western Sioux, spoke Lakota & had seven divisions—the Sihasapa, or Blackfoot; Brulé (Upper & Lower); Hunkpapa; Miniconjou; Oglala; Sans Arcs; & Oohenonpa, or Two-Kettle. Before the middle of the 17C, the Santee Sioux lived in the area around Lake Superior, where they gathered wild rice & other foods, hunted deer & buffalo, & speared fish from canoes. Prolonged & continual warfare with the Ojibwa to their east drove the Santee into what is now southern & western Minnesota, at that time the territory of the agricultural Teton & Yankton. In turn, the Santee forced these two groups from Minnesota into what are now North & South Dakota. Horses were becoming common on the Plains during this period, & the Teton & Yankton abandoned agriculture in favour of an economy centred on the nomadic hunting of bison.

The Teton & Yankton shared many cultural characteristics with other nomadic Plains Indian societies. They lived in tepees, wore clothing made from leather, suede, or fur, & traded buffalo products for corn (maize) produced by the farming tribes of the Plains. The Sioux also raided those tribes frequently, particularly the Mandan, Arikara, Hidatsa, & Pawnee, actions that eventually drove the agriculturists to ally themselves with the U.S. military against the Sioux tribes. 

Sioux men acquired status by performing brave deeds in warfare; horses & scalps obtained in a raid were evidence of valour. Sioux women were skilled at porcupine-quill & bead embroidery, favouring geometric designs; they also produced prodigious numbers of processed bison hides during the 19C, when the trade value of these “buffalo robes” increased dramatically. Community policing was performed by men’s military societies, the most significant duty of which was to oversee the buffalo hunt. Women’s societies generally focused on fertility, healing, & the overall well-being of the group. Other societies focused on ritual dance & shamanism.

Religion was an integral part of all aspects of Sioux life. The Sioux recognized 4 powers as presiding over the universe, & each power in turn was divided into hierarchies of 4. The buffalo had a prominent place in all Sioux rituals. Among the Teton & Santee the bear was also a symbolically important animal; bear power obtained in a vision was regarded as curative, & some groups enacted a ceremonial bear hunt to protect warriors before their departure on a raid.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

An Indian Camp by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874)

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) An Indian Camp

"At no distant date, the mountains and prairies of the Far West will no longer be a place of refuge from the onward march of civilization & 'then (as an American writer remarks) will the last Indian stand upon the verge of the Pacific seas, and his sun will have gone down forever.' The sketch presents a scene at an Indian camp, with their Lodges near at hand;- the principal figure wears a painted robe whereon is depicted his battles,- the figures shewing a glorious contempt for all acknowledged rules of perspective. In the foreground a female is cording a bale of dried meat,- distant figures trying their bows &c." A.J. Miller, extracted from "The West of Alfred Jacob Miller" (1837).

In July of 1858, Baltimore art collector William T. Walters commissioned 200 watercolors at $12  apiece from Baltimore-born artist Alfred Jacob Miller. These paintings were each accompanied by a descriptive text written by the artist, & were delivered in installments over the next 21 months & ultimately bound in 3 albums. These albums included the field-sketches drawn during Miller's 1837 expedition to the annual fur-trader's rendezvous in the Green River Valley (now western Wyoming).  These watercolors offer a unique record of the the lives of those involved in the closing years of the western fur trade & a look at the artist's opinions of both women & Native Americans.  The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Pawnee Chief with Two Warriors

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Pawnee Chief with Two Warriors

Historically, the Pawnee lived in villages of earth lodges with adjacent farmlands near the Loup, Republican, & South Platte rivers. The Pawnee tribal economic activities throughout the year alternated between farming crops & hunting buffalo.  In the early 19th century, the Pawnee numbered more than 10,000 people & were one of the largest & most powerful tribes in the west. Although dominating the Loup (ickariʾ) & Platte (kíckatuus) river areas for centuries, they later suffered from increasing encroachment & attrition by their numerically superior, nomadic enemies: the Sioux (or Lakota (páhriksukat / paahíksukat) ("cut throat / cuts the throat"), Cheyenne (sáhe / sáhi), & Arapaho (sáriʾitihka) ("dog eater"); the Pawnee called these collectively as cárarat ("enemy tribe") or cahriksuupiíruʾ ("enemy"). The Pawnee were occasionally at war with the Comanche (raaríhtaʾ) & Kiowa (káʾiwa) farther south. They had suffered many losses due to Eurasian infectious diseases brought by the expanding Europeans, & by 1860, the Pawnee population was reduced to 4,000.

The Pawnee had a sedentary lifestyle combining village life & seasonal hunting, which had long been established on the Plains. Archeology studies of ancient sites have demonstrated the people lived in this pattern for nearly 700 years, since about 1250 CE. The Pawnee generally settled close to the rivers and placed their lodges on the higher banks. They built earth lodges that by historical times tended to be oval in shape; at earlier stages, they were rectangular. They constructed the frame, made of 10–15 posts set some 10 feet (3.0 m) apart, which outlined the central room of the lodge. Lodge size varied based on the number of poles placed in the center of the structure. Most lodges had 4, 8, or 12 center-poles. A common feature in Pawnee lodges were four painted poles, which represented the four cardinal directions and the four major star gods (not to be confused with the Creator). A second outer ring of poles outlined the outer circumference of the lodge. Horizontal beams linked the posts together.

The frame was covered first with smaller poles, tied with willow withes. The structure was covered with thatch, then earth. A hole left in the center of the covering served as a combined chimney / smoke vent and skylight. The door of each lodge was placed to the east and the rising sun. A long, low passageway, which helped keep out outside weather, led to an entry room that had an interior buffalo-skin door on a hinge. It could be closed at night and wedged shut. Opposite the door, on the west side of the central room, a buffalo skull with horns was displayed. This was considered great medicine.

Mats were hung on the perimeter of the main room to shield small rooms in the outer ring, which served as sleeping and private spaces. The lodge was semi-subterranean, as the Pawnee recessed the base by digging it approximately three feet (one meter) below ground level, thereby insulating the interior from extreme temperatures. Lodges were strong enough to support adults, who routinely sat on them, and the children who played on the top of the structures.  As many as 30–50 people might live in each lodge, and they were usually of related families. A village could consist of as many as 300–500 people and 10–15 households. Each lodge was divided in two (the north and south), and each section had a head who oversaw the daily business. Each section was further subdivided into three duplicate areas, with tasks and responsibilities related to the ages of women and girls, as described below. The membership of the lodge was quite flexible.

The tribe went on buffalo hunts in summer and winter. Upon their return, the inhabitants of a lodge would often move into another lodge, although they generally remained within the village. Men's lives were more transient than those of women. They had obligations of support for the wife (and family they married into), but could always go back to their mother and sisters for a night or two of attention. When young couples married, they lived with the woman's family in a matrilocal pattern.

The Pawnee are a matrilineal people. Ancestral descent is traced through the mother, and children are considered born into the mother's clan and are part of her people. Traditionally, a young couple moved into the bride's parents' lodge. People work together in collaborative ways, marked by both independence and cooperation, without coercion. Both women and men are active in political life, with independent decision-making responsibilities.

Within the lodge, each north-south section had areas marked by activities of the three classes of women:
Mature women (usually married and mothers), who did most of the labor;
Young single women, just learning their responsibilities; and
Older women, who looked after the young children.

Women tended to be responsible for decisions about resource allocation, trade, and inter-lodge social negotiations. Men were responsible for decisions which pertained to hunting, war, and spiritual/health issues.  Women tended to remain within a single lodge, while men would typically move between lodges. They took multiple sexual partners in serially monogamous relationships.

The Pawnee women were skilled horticulturalists & cooks, cultivating & processing ten varieties of corn, seven of pumpkins & squashes, & eight of beans.  They planted their crops along the fertile river bottom-lands. These crops provided a wide variety of nutrients & complemented each other in making whole proteins. In addition to varieties of flint corn & flour corn for consumption, the women planted an archaic breed which they called "Wonderful" or "Holy Corn", specifically to be included in the sacred bundles.  The holy corn was cultivated & harvested to replace corn in the sacred bundles prepared for the major seasons of winter & summer. Seeds were taken from sacred bundles for the spring planting ritual. The cycle of corn determined the annual agricultural cycle, as it was the first to be planted & first to be harvested (with accompanying ceremonies involving priests & men of the tribe as well.)

In keeping with their cosmology, the Pawnee classified the varieties of corn by color: black, spotted, white, yellow, & red (which, excluding spotted, related to the colors associated with the four semi-cardinal directions). The women kept the different strains separate as they cultivated the corn. While important in agriculture, squash & beans were not given the same theological meaning as corn.

After they obtained horses, the Pawnee adapted their culture & expanded their buffalo hunting seasons. With horses providing a greater range, the people traveled in both summer & winter westward to the Great Plains for buffalo hunting. They often traveled 500 miles (800 km) or more in a season. In summer the march began at dawn or before, but usually did not last the entire day.

Once buffalo were located, hunting did not begin until the tribal priests considered the time propitious. The hunt began by the men stealthily advancing together toward the buffalo, but no one could kill any buffalo until the warriors of the tribe gave the signal, in order not to startle the animals before the hunters could get in position for the attack on the herd. Anyone who broke ranks could be severely beaten. During the chase, the hunters guided their ponies with their knees & wielded bows & arrows. They could incapacitate buffalo with a single arrow shot into the flank between the lower ribs & the hip. The animal would soon lie down & perhaps bleed out, or the hunters would finish it off. An individual hunter might shoot as many as five buffalo in this way before backtracking & finishing them off. They preferred to kill cows & young bulls, as the taste of older bulls was disagreeable.

After successful kills, the women processed the bison meat, skin & bones for various uses: the flesh was sliced into strips & dried on poles over slow fires before being stored. Prepared in this way, it was usable for several months. Although the Pawnee preferred buffalo, they also hunted other game, including elk, bear, panther, & skunk, for meat & skins. The skins were used for clothing & accessories, storage bags, foot coverings, fastening ropes & ties, etc.

The people returned to their villages to harvest crops when the corn was ripe in late summer, or in the spring when the grass became green & they could plant a new cycle of crops. Summer hunts extended from late June to about the first of September; but might end early if hunting was successful. Sometimes the hunt was limited to what is now western Nebraska. Winter hunts were from late October until early April & were often to the southwest into what is now western Kansas.

Like many other Native American tribes, the Pawnee had a cosmology with elements of all of nature represented in it. They based many rituals in the four cardinal directions. Pawnee priests conducted ceremonies based on the sacred bundles that included various materials, such as an ear of sacred corn, with great symbolic value. These were used in many religious ceremonies to maintain the balance of nature & the Pawnee relationship with the gods & spirits. In the 1890s, already in Oklahoma, the people participated in the Ghost Dance movement.

The Pawnee believed that the Morning Star & Evening Star gave birth to the first Pawnee woman. The first Pawnee man was the offspring of the union of the Moon & the Sun. As they believed they were descendants of the stars, cosmology had a central role in daily & spiritual life. They planted their crops according to the position of the stars, which related to the appropriate time of season for planting. Like many tribal bands, they sacrificed maize & other crops to the stars.

The ancestors of the Pawnees were speakers of Caddoan languages, who had developed a semi-sedentary neolithic lifestyle in valley-bottom lands on the Great Plains. Unlike other groups of the Great Plains, they had a stratified society with priests & hereditary chiefs. Their religion included cannibalism & human sacrifice.

At first contact, they were distributed widely through modern Oklahoma & Kansas, & they reached modern Nebraska about 1750. (Other Caddoan-speakers lived to the south, in modern Texas, forming a belt of related populations along the eastern edge of the Great Plains.)

Their unfortified villages of well-scattered grass lodges & earth lodges reflected an assumption that large raiding parties would not arrive without warning; their inhabitants could not rapidly co-ordinate defence against a large party of enemies. The Pawnees, with the Wichita & Arikara, were the only Caddoan groups to survive the era of iron, firearms, & horses, & they all did so by forming compact villages on high ground & surrounding them with ditch & wall defences.[ Most of the year was spent in these well-insulated homes, but many would go on communal deer hunts several days' travel from their homes. Some would even hunt buffalo, though without horses this was difficult & dangerous.

About 1670 the Apaches of the Southern Plains obtained horses & metal weapons in sufficient quantity to make them the dread of all their neighbors. For some decades the Pawnees were the victims of intensive raiding by large bands of mounted Apaches with iron weapons, & also by war parties of Chickasaws & Choctaws from the east who had firearms as well. The Siouan groups that became Quapaws, Osages, Omahas, Poncas & Kansas also appeared on the Plains about this time, driven west by the expansion of the Iroquois, & they too raided the Pawnees. Archaeology indicates that pressure from hostile Apaches may have persuaded the Skidi Pawnees to move from their settlements on the Republican River to the upper Loup River in the course of the next century or so.[ Their settlement pattern also changed from little villages of small rectangular earth-lodges to more defensible larger, compact villages of larger, circular lodges, the Skidis uniting in this way about 1680 while their close relations the Arikaras established a separate identity.

The main form of loot was women & children, to be sold as slaves. In 1694, Apaches brought a large number of captive children to the trading fair in New Mexico, but for some reason there were not enough buyers, so the Apaches beheaded all their slaves in full view of the Spaniards. In French Canada, Indian slaves were generally called Panis (anglicized to Pawnee), as most, during this period, had been captured from the Pawnee tribe or their relations. Pawnee became synonymous with "Indian slave" in general use in Canada, & a slave from any tribe came to be called Panis. As early as 1670, a reference was recorded to a Panis in Montreal. By 1757 Louis Antoine de Bougainville considered that the Panis nation "plays ... the same role in America that the Negroes do in Europe." The historian Marcel Trudel documented that close to 2,000 "panis" slaves lived in Canada until the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1833. Indian slaves comprised close to half of the known slaves in French Canada (also called Lower Canada).

By 1719 when de la Harpe led an expedition to Caddoan lands at the mouth of the Arkansas River, the Pawnees had also acquired horses & metal weapons from French traders, & they were attacking Apaches in turn, destroying their villages & carrying off Apache women & children. In 1720, Boisbriant reported that the Paniassas or Black Pawnees had recently captured a hundred Apaches, whom they were burning, a few each day. de la Harpe planned to establish French trading posts at the mouth of the Canadian River & elsewhere in Caddoan territory, but this was not done & the Pawnee remained dependent on infrequent & casual traders, while their enemies – the Osages – benefited from a regular trade.

In 1720, the Villasur expedition was sent to the Pawnees in an attempt to wean the tribe away from their French connections (which had been greatly magnified in Spanish imagination). Guided mainly by Apaches, & led by an officer without experience of Indians, the expedition approached the Skidi Pawnee villages along the outflow of the Loup River into the Platte River in modern Nebraska. The expedition sent their only Pawnee slave to make contact; he did not obtain any welcome for the Spanish party & he shortly failed to return to the Spanish camp. The Pawnees attacked at dawn, shooting heavy musketry fire & flights of arrows, then charging into combat clad only in paint, headband, moccasins & short leggings. Villasur, forty-five other Spaniards & eleven Pueblos were killed, & the survivors fled. In 1721, pressure on the Pawnees was increased by the establishment of a colony in Arkansas by John Law's Mississippi Company; this settlement too formed a market for Indian (mostly Caddoan) slaves & a convenient source of weapons for the Osages & their relations.

The French responded by sending Bourgmont to make peace (in the French interest) between the Pawnees & their enemies in 1724. He reported that the Pawnee were a strong tribe & good horsemen, but, located at the far end of every trade route for European goods, were unfamiliar with Europeans & were treated like country bumpkins by their southern relatives. The mutual hatred between Pawnees & Apaches was so great that both sides were cooking & eating many of their captives. Bourgmont's "peace" had little effect.

In 1739 the Mallet brothers visited the Skidi Pawnee. In 1750 the Skidis were reported to be ruled by a grand chief who had 900 warriors.  From about 1760, smallpox epidemics broke out on the Great Plains, reducing the Skidi from eight large villages in 1725 to one by 1800.

A Pawnee tribal delegation visited President Thomas Jefferson. In 1806 Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, Major G. C. Sibley, Major S. H. Long, among others, began visiting the Pawnee villages. Under pressure from Siouan tribes & European-American settlers, the Pawnee ceded territory to the United States government in treaties in 1818, 1825, 1833, 1848, 1857, & 1892. In 1857, they settled on the Pawnee Reservation along the Loup River in present-day Nance County, Nebraska, but maintained their traditional way of life. They were subjected to continual raids by Lakota from the north & west.

Until the 1830s, the Pawnee in what became United States territory were relatively isolated from interaction with Europeans. As a result, they were not exposed to Eurasian infectious diseases, such as measles, smallpox, & cholera, to which Native Americans had no immunity. In the 19C, however, they were pressed by Siouan groups encroaching from the east, who also brought diseases. Epidemics of smallpox & cholera, & endemic warfare with the Sioux & Cheyenne caused dramatic mortality losses among the Pawnee. From an estimated population of 12,000 in the 1830s, they were reduced to 3,400 by 1859, when they were forcibly constrained to a reservation in modern-day Nance County, Nebraska.

The Pawnees in the village of Chief Blue Coat suffered a severe defeat on 27 June 1843. A force of Lakotas attacked the village, killed more than 65 inhabitants & burned 20 earth lodges.  In 1852, a combined Indian force of Cheyennes & invited Kiowa & Kiowa Apaches attacked a Pawnee camp in Kansas during the summer hunt. First when a Pawnee shot a very reckless Cheyenne with an arrow in the eye, it was discovered he wore a hidden scalemailed armor under his shirt. The killing of this notable Cheyenne affected the Cheyennes to the point, that they carried their Sacred Arrows against the Pawnee the following summer in an all-out war.

Warriors enlisted as Pawnee Scouts in the latter half of the 19C in the United States Army. Like other groups of Native American scouts, Pawnee warriors were recruited in large numbers to fight on the Northern & Southern Plains in various conflicts against hostile Native Americans. Because the Pawnee people were old enemies of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche & Kiowa tribes, they served with the army for fourteen years between 1864 & 1877, earning a reputation as being a well-trained unit, especially in tracking & reconnaissance. The Pawnee Scouts took part with distinction in the Battle of the Tongue River during the Powder River Expedition (1865) against Lakota, Cheyenne & Arapaho & in the Battle of Summit Springs. They also fought with the US in the Great Sioux War of 1876. On the Southern Plains they fought against their old enemies, the Comanches & Kiowa, in the Comanche Campaign.

The Pawnee were subjected to continual raids by Lakota from the north & west. On one such raid, 5 August 1873, a Sioux war party of over 1,000 warriors ambushed a Pawnee hunting party of 350 men, women, & children. The Pawnee had gained permission to leave the reservation & hunt buffalo. About 70 Pawnee were killed in this attack, which occurred in a canyon in present-day Hitchcock County. The site is known as Massacre Canyon. Because of the ongoing hostilities with the Sioux & encroachment from American settlers to the south & east, the Pawnee decided to leave their Nebraska reservation in the 1870s & settle on a new reservation in Indian Territory, located in what is today Oklahoma.

In 1874, the Pawnee requested relocation to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), but the stress of the move, diseases & poor conditions on their reservation reduced their numbers even more. During this time, outlaws often smuggled whiskey to the Pawnee. The teenaged female bandits Little Britches & Cattle Annie were imprisoned for this crime. In 1875 most members of the nation moved to Indian Territory, a large area reserved to receive tribes displaced from east of the Mississippi River & elsewhere. The warriors resisted the loss of their freedom & culture, but gradually adapted to reservations. On 23 November 1892, the Pawnee in Oklahoma were forced by the US federal government to sign an agreement with the Cherokee Commission to accept individual allotments of land in a breakup of their communal holding.  By 1900, the Pawnee population was recorded by the US Census as 633.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Prairie Fever by Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902)

Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) Prairie Fever

Matthew Biagell explains in his book Albert Bierstadt that,"Athough Bierstadt made probing studies of individual Indians during his travels in the West, he usually generalized their appearances & activities in his paintings. He placed them, as he placed European peasants in earlier works, in the middle distance, so that we witness their presence in a landscape setting rather than focus on their movements." Many of his landscapes including Native Americans are the western equivalent of his European generalized landscapes & reveals Bierstadt's consistent attitude toward subject matter regardless of its locale human subjects are engaged in seemingly unrelated activities. His paintings, bathed in a golden glow, often suggest nostalgia for a previous age when Native Americans were thought to have lived harmoniously with nature. Here they are not wily, wicked, or predatory, but are engaged instead in peaceful domestic industry. Works such as this are obviously part of the broad western European tradition of Arcadian scenes, but in its American version the tradition assumes a particular complexity & ambivalence. His painting including Natives often portray the nobility of the Indians before their contact with Europeans & subsequent debasement. Paintings displaying this attitude undoubtedly provided the public with the images it wanted to see, especially during the years Indians were systematically being driven from their lands. Suchromanticized paintings might also be considered retardataire; the Indian, noble or otherwise, no longer engaged many serious 19C writers after the 1850s, & precise anthropological & linguistic analyses of Indian tribes were already being included in the Pacific railroad reports by that time.

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 24, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A K'nisteneux warrior and family

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A kKnisteneux Warrior and family. A warlike tribe of 8,000, living principally in British Territory and near the Rocky Mountains.

George Catlin's great innovation was in rendering his subjects in situ, unlike previous artists who usually painted the Indians' portraits during their Eastern visits. In the spring of 1830, Catlin departed for St. Louis, Missouri. Over the next 6 years, he made several western excursions, including a widely reported 1832 journey up the Missouri aboard the American Fur Company's steamboat Yellow Stone on her maiden voyage to Fort Union, North Dakota.

In the untamed West, animal attacks were a constant threat to the K'nisteneux Indians, & Catlin wrote: "The Grizzly Bear is the terror (the monster) of the North American great plains & Rocky Mountains; the most powerful & the most dangerous to human as well as to animal life; often as heavy as an ordinary ox, & with a brutal ferocity that lacks caution or fear, & an imperious rush upon every living thing that it meets. A couple of these huge creatures had been discovered within a few miles of the fur companie's Fort, at the mouth of Yellow Stone River, whilst the author was there, in 1832. A large party of K'nisteneux Indians being encamped around the fort at the time, some five or six of their best lancers mounted their horses & started for them, & the author in company. There was no manourvering  necessary in approaching them, for the moment that they discovered the party approaching, they came at full gallop upon them. The attack was mutual, & the rencontre terrible. The expertness of the lancers, one making the feint whist another gave the blow, succeeded, after a furious struggle. The male, the strongest of the two, fell from a blow of the war club, & its skin is now in the author's collection; The female, with several severe wounds, seeing her companion fall, escaped pursuit by crossing the Missouri river."

Saturday, March 23, 2019

American artist Seth Eastman (1808-1875) portrays a Native American Council

Seth Eastman (American artist, 1808-1875) The Indian Council

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.

Born in 1808 in Brunswick, Maine, Seth Eastman (1808-1875) found expression for his artistic skills in a military career. After graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point, where officers-in-training were taught basic drawing & drafting techniques, Eastman was posted to forts in Wisconsin & Minnesota before returning to West Point as assistant teacher of drawing. --- While at Fort Snelling, Eastman married Wakaninajinwin (Stands Sacred), the 15-year-old daughter of Cloud Man, Dakota chief. Eastman left in 1832, for another military assignment soon after the birth of their baby girl, Winona, & he declared his marriage ended when he left. Winona was also known as Mary Nancy Eastman & was the mother of Charles Alexander Eastman, author of Indian Boyhood. --- From 1833 to 1840, Eastman taught drawing at West Point. In 1835, he married his 2nd wife & was reassigned to Fort Snelling as a military commander & remained there with Mary & their 5 children for the next 7 years. During this time Eastman began recording the everyday way of life of the Dakota & the Ojibwa people. Transferred to posts in Florida, & Texas in the 1840s, Eastman made sketches of the native peoples there. This experience prepared him for the next 5 yeas in Washington, DC, where he was assigned to the commissioner of Indian Affairs & illustrated Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's important 6-volume Historical  Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, & Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. In 1867, Eastman returned to the Capitol to paint a series of scenes of Native American life for the House Committee on Indian Affairs. From the office of the United States Senate curator, we learn that in 1870, the House Committee on Military Affairs commissioned artist Seth Eastman 17 to paint images of important fortifications in the United States. He completed the works between 1870 & 1875. Of his 17 paintings of forts, 8 are located in the Senate, while the others are displayed on the House side of the Capitol. Eastman was working on the painting West Point, when he died in 1875.

Friday, March 22, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) The Cannibos Indians

George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Connibo Indian Family.  A tribe of 2-3,000, inhabiting the western banks of the Rio Yucayali and the vast pampas del Sacramento. 1853.

"In the vicinity of Nanta are a great many Indian tribes, amongst which are...the Connibos...and at least a dozen others; their languages all dialectic, and their physiological traits and colour altogether prove them to be only bands or sections of one great family...Of the South American tribes there are none nearer approaching to their primitive state than many of the tribes about the heads of the Amazon; and amongst these I spent some time. 
George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Connibo Village

"They have forests full of game, and rivers full of fish, and all the varieties of palms with their various kinds of fruit; and also the immense plains or pampas, stocked with wild horses and wild cattle for food, and for their skins and hair, which are articles of commerce with them. From these combined advantages they insure an easy and independent living, and have therefore the fewest inducements to adopt civilized modes of life.
George Catlin (1796 –1872) Driving Pampas for Wild Cattle Connibo 


"A ride across the Pampa del Sacramento, and a passage of the Yucayali in a canoe, afforded me some of the loveliest views of country I ever beheld, and some of the most interesting visits I have ever made to Indian tribes...The Connibos, of some two or three thousand...
George Catlin (1796 –1872) Bride and Groom on Horseback Connibo 

"The Connibos live upon the borders of the pampa, but build their villages in the edge of the forest. A village generally consists of but one house, but a curious house it is; it is a shed, and sometimes thirty or forty rods in length, constructed of posts set in the ground, to the tops of which are fastened horizontal timbers supporting a roof most curiously and even beautifully thatched with palm leaves...

"The Connibo wigwam, or shed, contains some times several hundreds of persons, and the families are separated only by a hanging screen or partition, made of palm-leaves, suspended across the shed. Like all the tribes in the valley of the Amazon, they sleep in hammocks slung between the posts of their sheds, when at home; and when travelling, between trees, or stakes driven into the ground. How curious are houses without doors, where, instead of walking in, we walk under ! I have given an account of the Skin-builders, the Dirt-builders, the Bark-builders, the Grass-builders, the Timber bm’lders, the Nest-builders, and we now come to the Shed-builders...
George Catlin (1796 –1872) Connibo Wigwam

"The Connibos...and all other tribes on the Yucayali and the Upper and Lower Amazon, have the same fondness for “ dress,” which is paint, according to his or her freak or fancy...The Connibos...are one of the most curious, and ingenious, and intelligent tribes I met with. 
George Catlin (1796-1872) Throwing the Bolas for Wild Horses, Connibo Indians at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

"They seemed proud of showing me their mode of manufacturing pottery, which was in itself a curiosity, and in some respects would do credit to any civilized race. They have a place somewhat like a brick-yard on the edge of the prairie near their village, where the women mix and beat the clay with a sort of mallet or paddle, and afterwards mould (or rather model) it into jars for their turtle butter, 

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Connibos Return from Turtle Hunt

"and also into a hundred different and most ingenious forms-into pitchers, cups, pots, and plates; and what is actually astonishing to the beholder, these are all made in the most perfect roundness and proportion without the aid of a wheel, by the rotary motion of the hand and adjustment of the fingers and mussel-shells which they use in giving form. After these are dried in the sun sufiiciently, the painting operation begins, which is a curious scene, and performed by another set of artists, and some of them, evidently, with a talent worthy of a better place. With red and yellow, blue and black colours which they extract from vegetables, and brushes they make from a fibrous plant they get amongst the rushes at the river shore, these colours are laid on, and often blended and grouped in forms and figures that exhibit extraordinary taste. Painted, they are then passed into the hands of old women, whose days for moulding and painting have gone by, but who are still able to gather wood and build fires on the sands at the river side where they are carried and baked; whilst the old women are tending to them, with hands clenched, they dance in a circle around them, singing and evoking the Evil Spirit not to put his fatal hand upon and break them in the fire. Those that come out with out the touch of his fingers (uncracked) are then removed to the village and glazed with a vegetable varnish or resin which they gather from some tree in the forest. This pottery, though it answers their purpose, is fragile and short-lived, being proof for a short time only against cold liquids, and not proof against those that are hot. The sole weapons of these people, and in fact of most of the neighbouring tribes, are bow and arrows, and lances, and blow-guns, all of which are constructed with great ingenuity, and used with the most deadly effect."  
George Catlin author Life Among the Indians 1861.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pacific Coast Native Americans by Louis Choris (1795-1828)

Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, are a Native American people of the central & northern California coast. When Spanish explorers & missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, the Ohlone inhabited the area along the coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley. They lived by hunting, fishing, & gathering, in the typical ethnographic California pattern. The members of these various bands interacted freely with one another as they built friendships & marriages, traded tools & other necessities, & partook in cultural practices. Before the Spanish came, the northern California region was one of the most densely populated regions north of Mexico. However in the years 1769 to 1833, the Spanish missions in California had a devastating effect on Ohlone culture. The Ohlone population declined steeply during this period.
Louis Choris (German-Russian painter 1795-1828) Natives Dancing at Mission Dolores.  Louis Choris (1795-1828) was a German-Russian painter & explorer. He was one of the 1st sketch artists used for for expedition research. Choris, who was a Russian of German stock, was born in Yekaterinoslav, now Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine on March 22, 1795. He visited the Pacific coast of North America in 1816, on board the Ruric, being attached in the capacity of artist to the Romanzoff expedition under the command of Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue, sent out for the purpose of exploring a Northwest Passage. After the voyage, Choris went to Paris, where he issued a portfolio of his drawings in lithographic reproduction. Choris worked extensively in pastels, as he documented the Ohlone people in the missions of San Francisco, California in 1816.

Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde, Avec des Portraits de Savages d'Amerique...by Louis Choriswas was published in Paris by Firmin Didot in 1822. Choris was only 20 years old,  when he was appointed official artist aboard the Rurik, 1815- 1818, commanded by the Russian, Otto von Kotzebue. After visiting islands in the South Seas, Kotzebue explored the North American coast & landed twice on the Hawaiian Islands. The first work in particular has great American interest because of its lithographs of California, the Queen Charlotte Islands, the Aleutians, St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, & Kotzebue Sound in Alaska. The lithographs cover all aspects of native life & culture.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Two Blackfoot Warriors & a Woman

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Two Blackfoot Warriors & a Woman

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.
George Catlin (1796 –1872) Two Blackfoot Warriors & a Woman

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Wolf River Kansas by Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902)


Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) Wolf River, Kansas (c. 1859)

Matthew Biagell explains in his book Albert Bierstadt that,"Athough Bierstadt made probing studies of individual Indians during his travels in the West, he usually generalized their appearances & activities in his paintings. He placed them, as he placed European peasants in earlier works, in the middle distance, so that we witness their presence in a landscape setting rather than focus on their movements." Many of his landscapes including Native Americans are the western equivalent of his European generalized landscapes & reveals Bierstadt's consistent attitude toward subject matter regardless of its locale human subjects are engaged in seemingly unrelated activities. His paintings, bathed in a golden glow, often suggest nostalgia for a previous age when Native Americans were thought to have lived harmoniously with nature. Here they are not wily, wicked, or predatory, but are engaged instead in peaceful domestic industry. Works such as this are obviously part of the broad western European tradition of Arcadian scenes, but in its American version the tradition assumes a particular complexity & ambivalence. His painting including Natives often portray the nobility of the Indians before their contact with Europeans & subsequent debasement. Paintings displaying this attitude undoubtedly provided the public with the images it wanted to see, especially during the years Indians were systematically being driven from their lands. Suchromanticized paintings might also be considered retardataire; the Indian, noble or otherwise, no longer engaged many serious 19C writers after the 1850s, & precise anthropological & linguistic analyses of Indian tribes were already being included in the Pacific railroad reports by that time.

Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) was best known for these 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.

Monday, March 18, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Zurumati Indians

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Zurumati indians were described by Catlin as a Native American tribe in the interior of the Amazon Forest.

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Three Zurumati indians

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Zurumati Children

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Seth Eastman (1808-1875) portrays the suicide of Anpetu Sapawin in his watercolor “Falls of St. Anthony.”

Seth Eastman (American artist, 1808-1875)  suicide of Anpetu Sapawin in his watercolor “Falls of St. Anthony.”

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.

From the office of the United States Senate curator, we learn that in 1870, the House Committee on Military Affairs commissioned artist Seth Eastman 17 to paint images of important fortifications in the United States. He completed the works between 1870 & amp; 1875. 

Born in 1808 in Brunswick, Maine, Eastman found expression for his artistic skills in a military career. After graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point, where officers-in-training were taught basic drawing & amp; drafting techniques, Eastman was posted to forts in Wisconsin & amp; Minnesota before returning to West Point as assistant teacher of drawing. 

While at Fort Snelling, Eastman married Wakaninajinwin (Stands Sacred), the 15-year-old daughter of Cloud Man, Dakota chief. Eastman left in 1832 for another military assignment soon after the birth of Their baby girl, Winona, & declared His marriage ended When He left. Winona was also known as Mary Nancy Eastman & was the mother of Charles Alexander Eastman, author of Indian Boyhood.

From 1833 to 1840, Eastman taught drawing at West Point. In 1835, he married his 2nd wife & was reassigned to Fort Snelling as a military commander & remained there with Mary & their 5 children for the next 7 years. During this time Eastman began recording the everyday way of life of the Dakota & the Ojibwa people. Eastman established himself as an accomplished landscape painter. Between 1836 & amp; 1840, 17 of his oils were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York City. 

Transferred to posts in Florida, & amp; Texas in the 1840s, Eastman became interesed in the Native Americans & made sketches of the people. This experience prepared him for the next 5 yeas in Washington, DC, where he was assigned to the commissioner of Indian Affairs & illustrated Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's important 6-volume Historical & amp; Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, & Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. 

In 1867 Eastman returned to the Capitol, this time to paint a series of scenes of Native American life for the House Committee on Indian Affairs. Of his 17 paintings of forts, 8 are located in the Senate, while the others are displayed on the House side of the Capitol. Eastman was working on the painting West Point when he died in 1875.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Two young Hyda (Haida) men

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Two young Hyda men

These Hyda fishermen were from a small tribe on the Pacific Coast, between Vancouver & Queen Charlotte’s. 1855.  The Haida are known for their craftsmanship, trading skills, & seamanship. They are thought to have been warlike & to practise slavery. Canadian Museum of Civilization anthropologist Diamond Jenness has compared the tribe to Vikings.

Oral histories & archaeological evidence indicate that the Haida have occupied Haida Gwaii for more than 17,000 years. In that time they have established an intimate connection with the islands' lands & oceans, established highly structured societies, & constructed many villages. The Haida have also occupied present-day southern Alaska for more than the last 200 years, the modern group having emigrated from Haida Gwaii in the 18C.

Prior to contact with Europeans, other Indigenous communities regarded the Haida as aggressive warriors & made attempts to avoid sea battles with them. Archaeological evidence shows that Northwest coast tribes, to which the Haida belong, engaged in warfare as early as 10 000 BC. Though the Haida were more likely to participate in sea battles, it was not uncommon for them to engage in hand-to-hand combat or long-range attacks.  Analyses of skeletal injuries dating from the Archaic period show that Northwest coast nations, particularly in the North where most Haida communities were situated, engaged in battles of some sort, though the number of battles is unknown. The presence of defensive fortifications dating from the Middle Pacific period show that the incidence of battles rose somewhere between 1800 BC & AD 500. These fortifications continued to be in use during the 18C as evidenced by Captain James Cook’s discovery of one such hilltop fortification in a Haida village. Numerous other sightings of such fortifications were recorded by other European explorers during this century.

There were multiple reasons that motivated Haida people to commit warfare. Various accounts explain that the Haida went to battle more for revenge & slaves than for anything else. According to the anthropologist Margaret Blackman, who has done research on the Haida since the 1970s, warfare on Haida Gwaii was primarily motivated by revenge. Many Northwest coast legends tell of Haida communities raiding & fighting with neighboring communities because of insults. Other causes included disputes over property, territory, resources, trade routes & even women. However, a battle between a Haida community & another often did not have simply one cause. In fact, many battles were the result of decades old disputes. The Haida, like many of the Northwest coast Indigenous communities, engaged in slave-raiding as slaves were highly sought after for their use as labor as well as bodyguards & warriors. During the 19C, the Haida fought physically with other Indigenous communities to ensure domination of the fur trade with European merchants. Haida groups also had feuds with these European merchants that could last years. In 1789, some Haidas were accused of stealing items from Captain Kendrick, most of which included drying linen. Kendrick seized two Haida chiefs & threatened to kill them via cannon-fire if they did not return the stolen items. Though the Haida community complied at the time, less than two years later 100 to 200 of its people attacked the same ship.

The missionary W.H. Collison describes having seen a Haida fleet of around forty canoes. However, he does not provide the number of warriors in these canoes, & there are no other known accounts that describe the number of warriors in a war party. The structure of a Haida war party generally followed that of the community itself, the only difference being that the chief took the lead during battles; otherwise his title was more or less meaningless. Medicine men were often brought along raids or before battles to “destroy the souls of enemies” & ensure victory.  Battles between a group of Haida warriors & another community sometimes resulted in the annihilation of either one or both of the groups involved. Entire villages would be burned down during a battle which was a common practice during Northwest coast battles. The Haida burned their warriors who died in battles, though it is not known if this act was done after each battle or only after battles in which they were victorious. The Haida believed that fallen warriors went to the House of Sun, which was considered a highly honorable death. For this reason, a specially made military suit for chiefs was prepared if they fell in battle. The slaves belonging to the chiefs who died in battle were burned with them.

The Haida used the bow & arrow until it was replaced by firearms acquired from Europeans in the 19C, but other traditional weapons were still preferred.  The weapons that the Haida used were often multi-functional; they were used not only in battle, but during other activities as well. For instance, daggers were very common & almost always the choice of weapon for hand-to-hand combat, & were also used during hunting & to create other tools. One medicine man’s dagger that Alexander Mackenzie came across during his exploration of Haida Gwaii, was used both for fights & to hold the medicine man's hair up. Another dagger that Mackenzie obtained from a Haida village was said to be connected to a Haida legend; many daggers had individual histories which made them unique from one another.  The Haida wore rod-and-slat armor. This meant greaves for the thighs & lower back & slats (a long strip of wood) in the side pieces to allow for more flexibility during movement. They wore elk hide tunics under their armour & wooden helmets. Arrows could not penetrate this armor, & Russian explorers found that bullets could only penetrate the armor if shot from a distance of less than 20 feet. The Haida rarely used shields because of their developed armor.

The Haida conducted regular trade with Russian, Spanish, British, & American fur traders & whalers. According to sailing records, they diligently maintained strong trade relationships with Westerners, coastal people, & among themselves.

Like other groups on the Northwest Coast, the Haida defended themselves with fortifications, including palisades, trapdoors & platforms. They took to water in large ocean-going canoes, each created from a single Western red cedar tree, & big enough to accommodate as many as 60 paddlers. The aggressive tribe were particularly feared in sea battles, although they did respect rules of engagement in their conflicts. The Haida developed effective weapons for boat-based battle, including a special system of stone rings weighing 18 to 23 kg (40 to 51 lb) which could destroy an enemy's dugout canoe & be reused after the attacker pulled it back with the attached cedar bark rope. The Haida took captives from defeated enemies. Between 1780 & 1830, the Haida turned their aggression towards European & American traders. Among the half-dozen ships the tribe captured were the Eleanor & the Susan Sturgis. The tribe made use of the weapons they so acquired, using cannons & canoe-mounted swivel guns.

In 1856, an expedition in search of a route across Vancouver Island was at the mouth of the Qualicum River when they observed a large fleet of Haida canoes approaching & hid in the forest. They observed these attackers holding human heads. When the explorers reached the mouth of the river, they came upon the charred remains of the village of the Qualicum people & the mutilated bodies of its inhabitants, with only one survivor, an elderly woman, hiding terrified inside a tree stump.

Also in 1857, the USS Massachusetts was sent from Seattle to nearby Port Gamble, where indigenous raiding parties made up of Haida (from territory claimed by the British) & Tongass (from territory claimed by the Russians) had been attacking & enslaving the Coast Salish people there. When the Haida & Tongass (sea lion tribe Tlingit) warriors refused to acknowledge American jurisdiction & to hand over those among them who had attacked the Puget Sound communities, a battle ensued in which 26 natives & one government soldier were killed. In the aftermath of this, Colonel Isaac Ebey, a US military officer & the first settler on Whidbey Island, was shot & beheaded on 11 August 1857 by a small Tlingit group from Kake, Alaska, in retaliation for the killing of a respected Kake chief in the raid the year before. Ebey's scalp was purchased from the Kake by an American trader in 1860. The introduction of smallpox among the Haida at Victoria in March 1862 significantly reduced their sovereignty over their traditional territories, & opened the doorway to colonial power. As many as nine in ten Haidas died of smallpox & many villages were completely depopulated.

The Haida also created "notions of wealth", & Jenness credits them with the introduction of the totem pole (Haida: ǥyaagang) & the bentwood box. Missionaries regarded the carved poles as graven images rather than representations of the family histories that wove Haida society together. Chiefly families showed their histories by erecting totems outside their homes, or on house posts forming the building. Their social organization was matri-lineal. As the islands were Christianised, many cultural works such as totem posts were destroyed or taken to museums around the world. This significantly undermined Haida self-knowledge & further diminished morale.