Sunday, September 29, 2019

~ Mee-chéet-e-neuh, Wounded Bear's Shoulder, Wife of the Chief by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Mee-chéet-e-neuh, Wounded Bear's Shoulder, Wife of the Chief

The artist George Catlin (1796–1872), who based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s & several books recounting his travels—on the theory of the Vanishing American, provided a vivid description of the process at work: "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind of a Philanthropist is filled to the brim with feelings of admiration; but to reach this country, one is obliged to descend from the light & glow of civilized atmosphere, through the different grades of civilization, which gradually sink to the most deplorable vice & darkness along our frontier; thence through the most pitiable misery & wretchedness of savage degradation, where the genius of natural liberty & independence have been blasted & destroyed by the contaminating vices & dissipations of civilized society. Through this dark & sunken vale of wretchedness one hurries as through a pestilence, until he gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination … Even here, the predominant passions of the savage breast, of treachery & cruelty, are often found, yet restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity,—a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world … From the first settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the bane of this blasting frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled."

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

~ Mi-néek-ee-súnk-te-ka, Mink, by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Mi-néek-ee-súnk-te-ka, Mink, a Beautiful Girl
In 1818, the artist George Catlin (1796–1872) was practicing law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821, to pursue painting Native Americans, a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." Catlin based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s recounting his travels — following the Vanishing (Native) American, "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind...gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination...here, treachery & cruelty, are...restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity, by a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world...From the first (colonial) settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the...frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled." Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating a visual & narrative record of Native American life. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act began a 12-year campaign to remove the remaining Indians from their ancient homelands east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, many Native Americans would be decimated by starvation & disease; within a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad. Catlin produced 2 major collections of paintings of American Indians & published a series of books chronicling his travels among the native peoples of North, Central, & South America.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

~ Chée-ah-ká-tchée, Wife of Nót-to-way by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Chée-ah-ká-tchée, Wife of Nót-to-way

In 1818, the artist George Catlin (1796–1872) was practicing law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821, to pursue painting Native Americans, a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." Catlin based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s recounting his travels — following the Vanishing (Native) American, "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind...gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination...here, treachery & cruelty, are...restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity, by a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world...From the first (colonial) settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the...frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled." Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating a visual & narrative record of Native American life. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act began a 12-year campaign to remove the remaining Indians from their ancient homelands east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, many Native Americans would be decimated by starvation & disease; within a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad. Catlin produced 2 major collections of paintings of American Indians & published a series of books chronicling his travels among the native peoples of North, Central, & South America.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Native Americans by Cassilly Adams (1843-1921)

 Cassilly Adams (American artist, 1843-1921)  Detail of Custer's Last Fight (1884)


Cassilly Adams (American artist, 1843-1921)  Custer's Last Fight (1884)

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, September 21, 2019

American artist Seth Eastman (1808-1875) portrays Native Americans

Seth Eastman (American artist, 1808-1875) Scalp Dance Of The Dakotas

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.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mariposa Indian Encampment, Yosemite Valley, California by Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902)

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.
Albert Bierstadt (German-born American painter, 1830-1902) Mariposa Indian Encampment, Yosemite Valley, California

California and the Indian Wars: Mariposa Indian War, 1850-1851
by Warren A. Beck and Ynez D. Hasse

The Mariposa Indian War was the most famed Indian encounter with miners in the southern Sierra region and also led to the discovery of Yosemite Valley. In 1849, as gold seekers invaded the country immediately west of the present Yosemite National Park they found one of the more densely populated Indian areas of the state. This was a region where acorns were abundant and game was plentiful below the winter snow line. Unfortunately, gold was also easily found along the numerous mountain strearns. At first the Indians (mainly Mono Piutes) welcomed the white man and the goods which could be obtained by trade, but resentment grew as virtually every valley was taken over by the newcomers.

To a certain extent, the story of this clash between Indian and white is the saga of James D. Savage, one of the most remarkable of the many characters of the Gold Rush era. A tall blue-eyed blonde who always wore red shirts to better impress the Indians, Savage had been a Bear Flagger, a one-time Sutter employee, and the one who was reported to have excited San Franciscans by hauling a barrel of gold dust through a hotel lobby. Establishing trading posts on the Fresno River and Mariposa Creek, he reportedly traded to the Indians "an ounce of gold [for] ... five pounds of flour, or a pound of bacon, a shirt required five ounces, and a pair of boots or a hat brought a full pound of the precious metal." Something of a linguist, Savage quickly learned most of the Indian tongues. He further ingratiated himself by taking wives from several different tribes (one authority said thirty-three!). It is hard to determine if the initial Indian attack was directed against Savage or against whites in general.

Through his wives Savage learned of a planned Indian uprising in September, 1850, but other whites did not take the warning seriously. In December, Savage's Trading Post was destroyed at Fresno Crossing, and three of his men killed. A force under Sheriff James Burney clashed indcisively with the Indians on January 11, 1851. An appeal to the Governor for help led to the organization of the Mariposa Battalion under "Major" James D. Savage, with three companies led by Captain John J. Kuykendall, Captain John Boling, and Captain William Dill. Kuykendall's company went southward to the King and upper Kaweah while the other two companies, in three campaigns, followed the Indians into the mountains.

The Mariposa Battalion was forced to wait before attacking the Indians while. a federal Indian commission, composed of Redick McKee, George W. Barbour, and Oliver M. Wozencraft, sought a peaceful solution. On March 19, 1851, the Commissioners signed a treaty at Camp Fremont with six tribes. However, the Yosemites (Miwok) and Chowchillas (Yokut) were absent, so the campaign against them began on March 19. The companies of Boling and Dill moved against the Yosemites, and discovered their valley on March 27. However, the battalion was forced to march in 3- to 5-foot snow drifts and in rain and sleet and found few Indians. The second campaign began on April 13, against the Chowchillas, and destroyed Indian food stores, but again the natives were able to elude their pursuers. However, the death of their chief induced the Chowchillas to surrender and accept reservation stattus. When the Yosemites refused to come to Camp Barbour and make peace, the third campaign launched against them, but with no more success than the others. However, as in all Indian wars the result was foreordained; the Yosemites were captured at Lake Tenaija (or Tenaya, named for their chief) on May 22, and forced to accept reservation life.

The artist Albert Bierstadt (German-born American, 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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Breaking up Camp at Sunrise by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874)

 Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Breaking up Camp at Sunrise

At four o'clock in the morning, it is the duty of the last men on guard to loosen the horses from their pickets, in order to range and feed. At daylight, everybody is up;- our provisors are busy with preparations for breakfast;- tents and lodges are collapsed, suddenly thrown down, wrapped up, and bundled into the wagons. If the sun is 20 minutes above the horizon when our breakfast is finished, we conceive he has a reproachful look. By this time the horses are driven in, and each man hurries after his own, saddles or harnesses him, and the train puts itself en route." 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.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

~ Wa-quóth-e-qua, The Buck's Wife, Wife of the Whale by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Wa-quóth-e-qua, The Buck's Wife, Wife of the Whale

In 1818, the artist George Catlin (1796–1872) was practicing law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821, to pursue painting Native Americans, a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." Catlin based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s recounting his travels — following the Vanishing (Native) American, "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind...gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination...here, treachery & cruelty, are...restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity, by a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world...From the first (colonial) settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the...frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled." Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating a visual & narrative record of Native American life. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act began a 12-year campaign to remove the remaining Indians from their ancient homelands east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, many Native Americans would be decimated by starvation & disease; within a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad. Catlin produced 2 major collections of paintings of American Indians & published a series of books chronicling his travels among the native peoples of North, Central, & South America.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Pacific Coast Ohlone & Costanoan 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 (1795-1828) Indian Hunting in the Bay Of San Francisco, CA 1822 Engraved by Jean Augustin Franquein (1789-1839)

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, September 11, 2019

Two Comanche Girls by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Two Comanche Girls


LETTERS AND NOTES ON THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS, AND CONDITIONS OF NORTH AMERICAN NDIANS
by George Catlin (First published in London in 1844)
LETTER--No. 42.

GREAT CAMANCHEE VILLAGE.

The Village of the Camanchees by the side of which we are encamped, is composed of six or eight hundred skin-covered lodges, made of poles & buffalo skins, in the manner precisely as those of the Sioux & other Missouri tribes, of which I have heretofore given some account. This village with its thousands of wild inmates, with horses & dogs, & wild sports & domestic occupations, presents a most curious scene; & the manners & looks of the people, a rich subject for the brush & the pen.

In the view I have made of it, but a small Portion of the village is shewn; which is as well as to shew the whole of it, inasmuch as the wigwams, as well as the customs, are the same in every part of it. In the foreground is seen the wigwam of the chief; & in various parts, crotches & poles, on which the women are? Drying meat, & "graining" buffalo robes. These people, living in a country where buffaloes are abundant, make their wigwams more easily of their skins, than of anything else; & with them find greater facilities of moving about, as circumstances often require; when they drag them upon the poles attached to their horses, & erect them again with little trouble in their new residence.

We white men, strolling about amongst their wigwams, are looked upon with as much curiosity as if we had come from the moon; & evidently create a sort of chill in the blood of children & dogs, when we make our appearance. I was pleased to-day with the simplicity of a group which came out in front of the chiefs lodge to scrutinize my faithful friend Chadwick & I, as we were strolling about the avenues & labyrinths of their village; upon which I took out my book & sketched as quick as lightning, whilst "Joe" riveted their attention by some ingenious trick or other, over my shoulders, which I did not see, having no time to turn my head. These were the juvenile parts of the chiefs family, & all who at this moment were at home; the venerable old man, & his three or four wives, making a visit, like hundreds of others, to the encampment.

In speaking just above, of the mode of moving their wigwams, & changing their encampments, I should have said a little more, & should also have given to the reader, a sketch of one of these extraordinary scenes, which I have had the good luck to witness; where several thousands were on the march, & furnishing one of those laughable scenes which daily happen, where so many dogs, & so many squaws, are travelling in such a confused mass; with so many conflicting interests, & so many local & individual rights to be pertinaciously claimed & protected. Each horse drags his load, & each dog, (i. e. each dog that will do it & there are many that will not), also dragging his wallet on a couple of poles; & each squaw with her load, & all together (notwithstanding their burthens) cherishing their pugnacious feelings, which often bring them into general conflict, commencing usually amongst the dogs, & sure to result in fisticuffs of the women; whilst the men, riding leisurely on the right or the left, take infinite pleasure in overlooking these desperate conflicts, at which they are sure to have a laugh, & in which, as sure never to lend a hand.

The Camanchees, like the Northern tribes, have many games, & in Pleasant weather seem to be continually practicing more or less of them, on the prairies, back of, & contiguous to, their village.

In their ball-plays, & some other games, they are far behind the Sioux & others of the Northern tribes; but, in racing horses & riding, they are not equalled by any other Indians on the Continent. Racing horses, it would seem, is a constant & almost incessant exercise, & their principal mode of gambling; & perhaps, a more finished set of jockeys are not to be found. The exercise of these people, in a country where horses are so abundant, & the country so fine for riding, is chiefly done on horseback; & it "stands to reason", that such a people, who have been practicing from their childhood, should become exceedingly expert in this wholesome & beautiful exercise. Amongst their feats of riding, there is one that has astonished me more than anything of the kind I have ever seen, or expect to see, in my life -- a stratagem of war, learned & practiced by every young man in the tribe; by which he is able to drop his body upon the side of his horse at the instant he is passing, effectually screened from his enemies' weapons as he lays in a horizontal position behind the body of his horse, with his heel hanging over the horses' back; by which he has the power of throwing himself up again, & changing to the other side of the horse if necessary. In this wonderful condition, he will hang whilst his horse is at fullest speed, carrying with him his bow & his shield, & also his long lance of fourteen feet in length, all or either of which he will wield upon his enemy as he passes; rising & throwing his arrows over the horse's back, or with equal ease & equal success under the horse's neck. This astonishing feat which the young men have bees repeatedly playing off to our surprise as well as amusement, whilst they have been galloping about in front of our tents, completely puzzled the whole of us; & appeared to be the result of magic, rather than of skill acquired by practice. I had several times great curiosity to approach them, to ascertain by what means their bodies could be suspended in this manner, where nothing could be seen but the heel hanging over the horse's back. In these endeavors I was continually frustrated, until one day I coaxed a young fellow up within a little distance of me, by offering him a few plugs of tobacco, & he in a moment solved the difficulty, so far as to render it apparently more feasible than before; yet leaving it one of the most extraordinary results of practice & persevering endeavors. I found on examination, that a shorthair halter was passed around under the neck of the horse, & both ends tightly braided into the mane, on the withers, leaving a loop to hang under the neck, & against the breast, which, being caught up in the hand, makes a sling into which the elbow falls, taking the weight of the body on the middle of the upper arm. Into this loop the rider drops suddenly & fearlessly, leaving his heel to hang over the back of the horse, to steady him, & also to restore him when he wishes to regain his upright position on the horse's back.

Besides this wonderful art, these people have several other feats of horsemanship, which they are continually showing off; which are pleasing & extraordinary, & of which they seem very proud. A people who spend so very great a part of their lives, actually on their horses backs, must needs become exceedingly expert in every thing that pertains to riding-to war, or to the chase; & I am ready, without hesitation, to pronounce the Camanchees the most extraordinary horsemen that I have seen yet in all my travels, & I doubt very much whether any people in the world can surpass them.

The Camanchees are in stature, rather low, & in person, often approaching to corpulency. In their movements, they are heavy & ungraceful; & on their feet, one of the most unattractive & slovenly-looking races of Indians that I have ever seen; but the moment they mount their horses, they seem at once metamorphosed, & surprise the spectator with the ease & elegance of their movements. A Camanchee on his feet is out of his element, & comparatively almost as awkward as a monkey on the ground, without a limb or a branch to cling to; but the moment he lays his hand upon his hone, his face, even becomes handsome, & he gracefully flies away like a different being.

Our encampment is surrounded by continual swarms of old & young-of middle aged -- of male & female -- of dogs, & every moving thing that constitutes their community; & our tents are lined with the chiefs & other worthies of the tribe. So it will be seen there is no difficulty of getting subjects enough for my brush, as well as for my pen, whilst residing in this place.

The head chief of this village, who is represented to us here, as the head of the nation, is a mild & pleasant looking gentleman, without anything striking or peculiar in his looks; dressed in a very humble manner, with very few ornaments upon him, & his hair carelessly falling about his face, & over his shoulders. The name of this chief is Ee-shahko-nee (The Bow & Quiver). The only ornaments to be seen about him were a couple of beautiful shells worn in his ears, & a boar's tusk attached to his neck, & worn on his breast.

For several days after we arrived at this place, there was a huge mass of flesh, Ta-wah-que-nah (The Mountain of Rocks), who was put forward as head chief of the tribe; & all honours were being paid to him by the regiment of dragoons, until the above-mentioned chief arrived from the country, where it seems he was leading a war-party; & had been sent for, no doubt, on the occasion. When he arrived, this huge monster, who is the largest & fattest Indian I ever saw, stepped quite into the background, giving way to this admitted chief, who seemed to have the confidence & respect of the whole tribe.

This enormous man, whose flesh would undoubtedly weigh three hundred pounds or more, took the most wonderful strides in the exercise of his temporary authority; which, in all probability, he was lawfully exercising in the absence of his superior, as second chief of the tribe.

A perfect personation of Jack Falstaff, in size & in figure, with an African face, & a beard on his chin of two or three inches in length. His name, he tells me, he got from having conducted a large party of Camanchees through a secret & subterraneous passage, entirely through the mountain of granite rocks, which lies back of their village; thereby saving their lives from their more powerful enemy, who had "cornered them up" in such a way, that there was no other possible mode for their escape. The mountain under which he conducted them, is called Ta-wah-que-nah (The Mountain of Rocks), & from this he has received his name, which would certainly have been far more appropriate if it had been a mountain of flesh.

Corpulency is a thing exceedingly rare to be found in any of the tribes, amongst the men, owing, probably, to the exposed & active sort of lives they lead; & that in the absence of all the spices of life, many of which have their effect in producing this disgusting, as well as unhandy & awkward extravagance in civilized society.

Ish-a-ro-yeh (He Who Carries A Wolf); & Is-sa-wah-tam-ah (The Wolf Tied With Hair); are also chiefs of some standing in the tribe, & evidently men of great influence, as they were put forward by the head chiefs, for their likenesses to be painted in turn, after their own. The first of the two seemed to be the leader of the war-party which we met, & of which I have spoken; & in escorting us to their village, this man took the lead & piloted us the whole way, in consequence of which Colonel Dodge presented him a very fine gun.

His-oo-san-ches (The Spaniard), a gallant little fellow, is represented to us as one of the leading warriors of the tribe; & no doubt is one of the most extraordinary men at present living in these regions.

He is half Spanish, & being a half-breed, for whom they generally have the most contemptuous feelings, he has been all his life thrown into the front of battle & danger; at which posts he has signalized himself, & commanded the highest admiration & respect of the tribe, for his daring & adventurous career. This is the man of whom I have before spoken, who dashed out so boldly from the war-party, & came to us with the white rag raised on the point of his lance, & of whom I have made a sketch in. I have here represented him as he stood for me, with his shield on his arm, with his quiver slung, & his lance of fourteen feet in length in his right hand. This extraordinary little man, whose figure was light, seemed to be all bone & muscle, & exhibited immense power, by the curve of the bones in his legs & his arms. We had many exhibitions of his extraordinary strength, as well as agility; & of his gentlemanly politeness & friendship, we had as frequent evidences. As an instance of this, I will recite an occurrence which took place but a few days since, when we were moving our encampment to a more desirable ground on another side of their village. We had a deep & powerful stream to ford, when we had several men who were sick, & obliged to be carried on litters. My friend "Joe" & I came up in the rear of the regiment, where the litters of the sick were passing, & we found this little fellow up to his chin in the muddy water, wading & carrying one end of each litter on his head, as they were in turn, passed over. After they had all passed, this gallant little fellow beckoned to me to dismount, & take a seat on his shoulders, which I declined; preferring to stick to my horse's back, which I did, as he took it by the bridle & conducted it through the shallowest ford. When I was across, I took from my belt a handsome knife & presented it to him, which seemed to please him very much.

Besides the above-named chiefs & warriors, I painted the portrait of Kots-o-ko-ro-ko (The Hair of The Bull's Neck); & Hah-nee (The Beaver); the first, a chief, & the second, a warrior of terrible aspect, & also of considerable distinction. These & many other paintings, as well as manufactures from this tribe, may be always seen in my Museum, if I have the good luck to get them safe home from this wild & remote region.

From what I have already seen of the Camanchees, I am fully convinced that they are a numerous & very powerful tribe, & quite equal in numbers & prowess, to the accounts generally given of them.

It is entirely impossible at present to make a correct estimate of their numbers; but taking their own account of villages they point to in such numbers, South of the banks of the Red River, as well as those that lie farther West, & undoubtedly North of its banks, they must be a very numerous tribe; & I think I am able to say, from estimates that these chiefs have made me, that they number some 30 or 40,000 -- being able to shew some 6 or 7000 warriors, well-mounted & well-armed. This estimate I offer not as conclusive, for so little is as yet known of these people, that no estimate can be implicitly relied upon other than that, which, in general terms, pronounces them to be a very numerous & warlike tribe.

We shall learn much more of them before we get out of their country; & I trust that it will yet be in my power to give something like a fair census of them before we have done with them.

They speak much of their allies & friends, the Pawnee Picts, living to the West some three or four days' march, whom we are going to visit in a few days, & afterwards return to this village, & then "bend our course" homeward, or, in other words, back to Fort Gibson. Besides the Pawnee Picts, there are the Kiowas & Wicos; small tribes that live in the same vicinity, & also in the same alliance, whom we shall probably see on our march. Every preparation is now making to be off in a few days -- & I shall omit further remarks on the Camanchees, until we return, when I shall probably have much more to relate of them & their customs. So many of the men & officers are getting sick, that the little command will be very much crippled, from the necessity we shall be under, of leaving about thirty sick, & about an equal number of well to take care of & protect them: for which purpose, we are constructing a fort, with a sort of breastwork of timbers & bushes, which will be ready in a day or two; & the sound part of the command prepared to start with several Camanchee leaders, who have agreed to pilot the way.

During the mid-19C, George Catlin created 2 large collections of paintings featuring Indian portraits, genre scenes, & western landscapes. The 1st collection, which he called his "Indian Gallery," included more than 500 works completed during the 1830s. Most of the surviving paintings from this group are now at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. During the 1850s & 1860s, Catlin created a 2nd collection, numbering more than 600 works, which he called his "Cartoon Collection." The surviving works from this collection were acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1912. Paul Mellon purchased more than 300 paintings from the Cartoon Collection when they were deaccessioned. In 1965, he gave 351 works from this collection to the National Gallery of Art.

The artist George Catlin (1796–1872), who based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s & several books recounting his travels—on the theory of the Vanishing American, provided a vivid description of the process at work: "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind of a Philanthropist is filled to the brim with feelings of admiration; but to reach this country, one is obliged to descend from the light & glow of civilized atmosphere, through the different grades of civilization, which gradually sink to the most deplorable vice & darkness along our frontier; thence through the most pitiable misery & wretchedness of savage degradation, where the genius of natural liberty & independence have been blasted & destroyed by the contaminating vices & dissipations of civilized society. Through this dark & sunken vale of wretchedness one hurries as through a pestilence, until he gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination … Even here, the predominant passions of the savage breast, of treachery & cruelty, are often found, yet restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity,—a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world … From the first settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the bane of this blasting frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled."

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

American artist Seth Eastman (1808-1875) portrays Wah-ba-sha Village on the Mississippi River 650 Miles above St. Louis

Seth Eastman (American artist, 1808-1875) Wah-ba-sha Village on the Mississippi River 650 Miles above St. Louis

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.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Karl Ferdinand Wimar (1828-1862) The War Party

Karl Ferdinand Wimar (1828-1862 a painter of the American West was also known as Charles Wimar & Carl Wimar) The War Party

A German-born immigrant to the United States, Charles Wimar(1828-1862) was fascinated by the American frontier.   In 1843, he traveled to St. Louis, a fur-trading frontier town at the time. Between 1846 & 1850, he was apprenticed to the artist Leon de Pomarede, & accompanied him on a journey up the Mississippi, to St. Anthony Falls in Minnesota. In 1852, Wimar returned to Germany; & for 4 years, he studied with with Emmanuel Leutze & Josef Fay in Düsseldorf. After his return to the United States, Wimar took several journeys up the Mississippi River and, in 1858, up the Yellowstone River – documented in various sketchbooks. When he died from tuberculosis at the age of 34, he left about 50 paintings. Wimar's paintings, like others of the time, reinforced notions of Native Americans as savage & white settlers as cultivated & divinely ordained - a notion that helped justify white colonization of the West. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - Arapahos

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Arapahos 

"This scene represents an Arapaho Indian en famille, smoking his pipe and reposing under a blanket suspended from the branches of a tree, to screen them from the sun. We saw some fine speciments of this tribe. They do not shave their heads like the Sioux, but braid the centre or scalp lock with ribbons or feathers of the 'War Eagle.' We noticed also a difference in their moccasins, the fronts extending only to the instep and wanting the side flaps. Indians are capable of designating a tribe very often by merely having the moccasins. The Arapahos were tall, finely formed men, from 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. in height. In setting out on their war parties, the process of painting, dressing, and adorning themselves occupies considerably of their time and attention. When a party is seen scouring over the prairies under thes circumstances it bodes no good to theose they happen to encounter. As regards their steeds, they have no geldings & we saw none, except those brought from the States. The animal thus preserves all his game spirit & is capable of great endurance. They partake somewhat of the Arabian breed." 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, September 3, 2019

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - Breakfast at Sunrise

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Breakfast at Sunrise

"The sketch represents 'our mess' at the morning meal;- Jean whi is pouring out coffee, seems to our hungry eyes more graceful than Hebe disposing Nectar, although he is more shapeless than a log of wood. The plate service of the table is of capital tin ware, partout, and the etiquette rigid in some particulars;- for instance, nothing in the shape of a fork must be used. With a 'Bowie' you separate a large rib from the mass before you, hold firmly to the smaller end, and your outrageous appetite teaches all the rest. The usual mode of sitting is cross-legged like a Turk. Indians are looking on patiently, in order to be ready for the 2nd table." 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.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

~ Oó-je-en-á-he-a, Woman Who Lives in a Bear's Den by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Oó-je-en-á-he-a, Woman Who Lives in a Bear's Den

In 1818, the artist George Catlin (1796–1872) was practicing law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821, to pursue painting Native Americans, a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." Catlin based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s recounting his travels — following the Vanishing (Native) American, "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind...gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination...here, treachery & cruelty, are...restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity, by a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world...From the first (colonial) settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the...frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled." Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating a visual & narrative record of Native American life. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act began a 12-year campaign to remove the remaining Indians from their ancient homelands east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, many Native Americans would be decimated by starvation & disease; within a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad. Catlin produced 2 major collections of paintings of American Indians & published a series of books chronicling his travels among the native peoples of North, Central, & South America.