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.
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.
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
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!
Catlin: Volume I:
(Buffalo’s Back Fat), Head Chief of the Blackfoot Nation at that
time; around 50 years of age.
|Eeh-nis-kin (Crystal Stone), youngest wife of Buffalo’s Back Fat.|
|Pe-toh-pee-kiss (Eagle Ribs), contemporary of Buffalo’s Back Fat.||
(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.
“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……”
(Four Wolves), Crow warrior, hair described as touching the ground;
locks shorn in front due to mourning death of friend at time of
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
|Wi-jun-jon (Pigeon’s Egg Head), son of the Head Chief.||Chin-cha-pee (Fire Bug That Creeps), wife of Pigeon’s Egg Head.|
“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.”
(Wolf Chief) Head Chief of the Mandan Nation.
|Sha-ko-kah (Mint) – Mandan woman.|
(Black Rock) War Chief of Nee-caw-wee-gee Band of the Sioux.
(Tobacco) described as a “desperate warrior” and one of the
respectable and famous Chiefs of the Nation.
(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:
(Little Bear); killed by one of his own tribe moments after this
painting was done….”
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.”
(The Dog) warrior that slayed Mah-to-che-ga (Little Bear) above.
(Steep Wind), brother of Shonka (The Dog) above.
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.”
(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
(Shooting Cedar), distinquished warrior of the Tribe.
|Was-com-mun (Busy Man), distinquished warrior of the Tribe.|
“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.”
“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.”
(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); aged Chief of Missouries.|
|La-doo-ke-a (Buffalo Bull) Grand Pawnee warrior of great distinction.||Le-shaw-loo-lah-le-hoo (Big Elk); Chief of the Wolf Pawnees.|
|No-way-ke-sug-ga (He Who Strikes Two At Once); Ottoes’ warrior.||
(Loose Pipe Stem); Ottoes’ warrior.
|Ki-ho-ga-waw-shu-shee (Brave Chief); Chief of the Omahas.||
(Big Elk); warrior of the Omahas.
Portraits of the Past-Continued on Page 2-
Below are Links to Native American History Pages