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PORTRAITS OF THE PAST: 
Pg 1

    This section concerns Native American people whom are not so well-known, if known at all.  Perhaps they should be.  And again, perhaps, this small endeavor will cause others to begin “seeking” them out and thus gaining in some small way, some ground lost over the years of the Native American Heritage. 

    I begin within the wonderful testaments and pictorials of George Catlin.  While he is non-Indian, and there is no doubt that he never claimed to be, there also is no doubt as to the man’s sincerity to the purpose of bringing to realization of the Truth and Beauty of Native Americans and their Ways, as well as preserving their Truth for ensuing Ages. 

     If one is truly interested in getting away from the mindset of 1800’s Dime Novels, Buffalo Bill Shows right down to and including “Western Movies”, as well as three quarter percent of hyperism that continues to this day on most any given subject by “news medias and journalists”, then George Catlin’s 2 Volume Set is simply essential to that goal.  And this applies to Native American or non.

    Perhaps it will aid in giving one perspective here, if one ponders a moment, and considers the fact that this man George Catlin lived during the times of, and knew personally, George Rogers Clark and Meriwhether Lewis.  Not only this, but some of the Native Americans he spoke of and to, as well as painted, met and knew Lewis and Clark when they actually doing their exploratory adventures. 

     In short, with Catlin one gets a truly rare glimpse into first hand history that is not of the sort whose sources are dubious, at best; as well keep in mind, sensationalism is not on this man’s mind but rather the recording for the more instant education of those living at the time, and for posterity as a whole.

     Information, pictures and quoted comments provided from with the pages of: Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians by George Catlin, Volume I. Copyright 1973 by Dover Publications, ,Inc. First published in London, 1844.

George Catlin:

Catlin’s Creed

I love a people who have always made me welcome to the best they had.

I love a people who are honest without laws, who have no jails and no poorhouses.

 love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read them or heard them

preached from the pulpit.

I love a people who never swear, who never take the name of God in vain.

I love a people who love their neighbors as they love themselves.

I love a people who worship God without a bible, for I believe that God loves them also.

I love a people whose religion is all the same, and who are free from religious animosities.

I love a people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my property, where there was

no law to punish for either.

I love a people who have never fought a battle with white men, except on their own ground.

I love and don’t fear mankind where God has made and left them, for there they are children.

I love a people who live and keep what is their own without locks and keys.

I love all people who do the best they can.

And oh, how I love a people who don’t live for the love of money!

George Catlin: Volume I: (All pictures/paintings circa 1830-1836.)

BLACKFOOT:  

Stu-mick-o-sucks(Buffalo's Back Fat)Stu-mick-o-sucks (Buffalo’s Back Fat), Head Chief of the Blackfoot Nation at that time; around 50 years of age. Eeh-nis-kin(Crystal Stone)Eeh-nis-kin (Crystal Stone), youngest wife of Buffalo’s Back Fat.
Pe-toh-pee-kiss (Eagle Ribs)Pe-toh-pee-kiss (Eagle Ribs), contemporary of Buffalo’s Back Fat.

Wun-nes-tou (White Buffalo)Wun-nes-tou (White Buffalo), contemporary of Buffalo’s Back Fat and Medicine Man. What you see on his left arm is not to be taken as a shield.  It is Mystery or Spiritual Drum (tamborine), within which this individual would place various sacred “mysteries” of his healing art.

CROW:

     “The Crows are very handsome and gentlemanly Indians in their personal appearance: and have always been reputed, since the first acquaintance made with them, very civil and friendly.

     These people, to be sure, have in some instances plundered and robbed trappers and travelers in their country; and for that I have sometimes heard them called rascals and thieves, and rogues of the first order, etc.; yet they do not consider themselves such; for thieving in their estimation is a high crime, and considered the most disgraceful act that a man can possibly do.  They call this “capturing”, where they sometimes run off a Trader’s horses, and make their boast of it; considering it a kind of retaliation or summary justice, which they think it right and honourable that they should administer.  And why not? For the unlicensed trespass committed through their country from one end to the other, by mercenary white men, who are destroying the came, and catching all the beaver and other rich and valuable furs out of their country, without paying them an equivalent, or, in fact, anything at all, for it; and this too, when they have been warned time and again of the danger they would be in, if they longer persisted in the practice.  Reader, I look upon the Indian as the most honest and honourable race of people that I ever lived amongst in my life; and in their native state, I pledge you trust to their honour……”

Chah-ee-chopes (Four Wolves)Chah-ee-chopes (Four Wolves), Crow warrior, hair described as touching the ground; locks shorn in front due to mourning death of friend at time of portrait painting.
It is interesting to note, that at least at this particular time, the Head Chief or Leader of the Crows was so chosen/named due to the longest length of his hair.  At this time this Chief was one “Long Hair”, and whose hair was measured to be over 10 feet in length!  
Assineboins (or Stone Boilers):
Wi-jun-jon (Pigeon’s Egg Head)Wi-jun-jon (Pigeon’s Egg Head), son of the Head Chief. Chin-cha-pee (Fire Bug That Creeps),Chin-cha-pee (Fire Bug That Creeps), wife of Pigeon’s Egg Head.
MANDAN:

    “The Mandans are certainly a very interesting and pleasing people in their personal appearance, and manners differing in many respects, both in looks and customs, from all other tribes which I have seen.  They are not a warlike people; for they seldom, if ever, carry war into their enemies; country; but when invaded, show their valour and courage to be equal to that of any people on earth.”

    “There are a great many of these people whose complexions appear as light as half-breedsl and amongst the women particularly, there are many whose skins are almost white, with the most pleasing symmetry and proportion of features, with hazel, with grey, and with blue eyes…..why this diversity of complexion I cannot tell, nor can they themselves account for it.”

Ha-na-tah-nu-mauh (Wolf Chief)Ha-na-tah-nu-mauh (Wolf Chief) Head Chief of the Mandan Nation. Sha-ko-kah  (Mint) Sha-ko-kah  (Mint) – Mandan woman.

Sioux:
Ea-ah-sa-pa (Black Rock) Ea-ah-sa-pa (Black Rock) War Chief of Nee-caw-wee-gee Band of the Sioux. Techan-dee (Tobacco)Techan-dee (Tobacco) described as a “desperate warrior” and one of the respectable and famous Chiefs of the Nation.
  Toh-ki-ee-to (The Stone with Horns) Toh-ki-ee-to (The Stone with Horns) Chief of the Yanc-ton (Yankton) Sioux and reputed to be the principal and most eloquent orator of the Nation.

George Catlin, Volume II: 

Sioux continued:

Mah-to-che-ga (Little Bear)Mah-to-che-ga (Little Bear); killed by one of his own tribe moments after this painting was done….”

 

 

 

     …nearly costing me my own life for having painted a side view of his face, leaving one-half of it out of the picture, which had been the cause of the affray; and supposed by the whole tribe  to haven been intentionally left out by me, as ;good for nothing;.  This was the last picture that I painted amongst the Sioux, and the last, undoubtedly, that I ever shall paint in that place. So tremendous and so alarming was the excitement about it, that my brushes were instantly put away, and I embarked the next day on the steamer for the sources of the Missouri, and was glad to get underweigh.”
Shonka (The Dog)Shonka (The Dog) warrior that slayed Mah-to-che-ga (Little Bear) above. Tah-teck-a-da-hair (Steep Wind)Tah-teck-a-da-hair (Steep Wind), brother of Shonka (The Dog) above.

Ioway:

Small tribe of some 1,400 people; located approximately within a few miles of Ft. Leavenworth, Lower Missouri. “This tribe has undoubtedly sprung from the Osages, as their personal appearance, language, and traditions clearly prove. They are living adjoining to the Osages at this time, and although a kindred people, have sometimes deadly warfare with them.”

Notch-ee-ning-a (No Heart)Notch-ee-ning-a (No Heart) also called White Cloud apparently in honor of his father who was the chief just prior to him, and well beloved by the tribe; Chief of the Ioway. Pah-ta-coo-che (Shooting Cedar)Pah-ta-coo-che (Shooting Cedar), distinquished warrior of the Tribe.
Was-com-mun (Busy Man)Was-com-mun (Busy Man), distinquished warrior of the Tribe.

Konzas:

Chesh-oo-hong-ha (Man of Good Sense)Chesh-oo-hong-ha (Man of Good Sense); distinquished warrior.

Meach-o-shin-gaw (Little White Bear)Meach-o-shin-gaw (Little White Bear); distinquished warrior

WA-hon-ga-shee (No Fool)WA-hon-ga-shee (No Fool); distinquished warrior.

    “The custom of shaving the head, and ornamenting it with the crest of deer’s hair, belongs to this tribe; and also to the Osages, the Pawnees, the Sacs, and Foxes and Iowayus and to no other tribe that I know of, unless it be of some few instances where individuals have introduced it into their tribes, merely by way of imitation”

    “Amongst the tribes who thus shave and ornament their heads, the crest is uniformly blood-red; and the upper part of the head, and generally a considerable part of the face, as read as they can possibly make it with vermilion. I found these people cutting off the hair with small scissors, which they purchase of the Fur Traders; and they told me that previous to getting scissors,  they cut it away with their knives; and before they got knives, they were in the habit of burning it off with red hot stones, which as a very slow and painful operation.”

    “With the exception of these few, all the other tribes in North America cultivate the hair to the greatest length they possibly can; preserving it to flow over their shoulders and backs in great profusion, and quite unwilling to spare the smallest lock of it for any consideration.”

Pawnee:

    “The Pawnee are a very powerful and warlike nation, living on the river Platte, about one hundred miles from its junction with the Missouri; laying claim to, and exercising sway over, the whole country, from its mouth to the base of the Rocky Mountains.”

 About 1832 they had approximately 22,000 members.  During that year, they lost over 10,000 people to Small Pox in just a few months.  Other tribes, powerful in their own right before this onslaught of the disease were so decimated by it, that they had to “merge” into the Pawnee for protection and simple survival from their enemies including the Sioux, Sacs and Foxes; these tribes were the: Omahas, Ottoes and Missouries.

Shon-ka-ki-he-ga (The Horse Thief)Shon-ka-ki-he-ga (The Horse Thief); Grand Pawnee Head Chief. (in the “letter” by Catlin the name is written as Horse Chief.) Haw-che-ke-sug-ga (He Who Kills Osages);Haw-che-ke-sug-ga (He Who Kills Osages); aged Chief of Missouries.


At that time, there were four bands or families of The Pawnees: Grand Pawnees; Tappage Pawness; Republican Pawness; and the Wolf Pawnees.

La-doo-ke-a (Buffalo Bull)La-doo-ke-a (Buffalo Bull) Grand Pawnee warrior of great distinction. Le-shaw-loo-lah-le-hoo (Big Elk)Le-shaw-loo-lah-le-hoo (Big Elk); Chief of the Wolf Pawnees.
No-way-ke-sug-ga (He Who Strikes Two At Once)No-way-ke-sug-ga (He Who Strikes Two At Once); Ottoes’ warrior. Raw-no-way-who-krah (Loose Pipe Stem)Raw-no-way-who-krah (Loose Pipe Stem); Ottoes’ warrior.
Ki-ho-ga-waw-shu-shee (Brave Chief)Ki-ho-ga-waw-shu-shee (Brave Chief); Chief of the Omahas. Om-pa-ton-ga (Big Elk)Om-pa-ton-ga (Big Elk); warrior of the Omahas.

Portraits of the Past-Continued on Page 2-

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