Original Hand Colored Photogravure
“The Wooing” circa 1900 - 1915
Original Hand Colored Photogravure - “The Wooing” circa 1900 - 1915. A one time 1918 photogravure printing in a limited edition of 250. Hand colored versions are extremely rare; as little as 5 hand color versions exist. From the estate
of Rolland Reed. Richard C. Frey
Fine Arts, Chico, California.
Original Hand Colored Photogravure
“The Wooing” circa 1900 - 1915
in Ortonville, MN, where his sister Mabel lived with her husband
Ova Chamberlin. He quickly developed a multi-state reputation
as an excellent portrait photographer, especially of children, and
a photographer of local landscapes. As his business grew, he opened
a second studio about 250 miles away in Bemidji, MN. After a few
years, he began to periodically venture from his Bemidji Studio
to photograph the Ojibwe Indians on nearby reservations. In 1907
he sold his Ortonville and Bemidji studios and went to live near the
Ojibwe Red Lake Reservation to begin his pursuit of portraying the
North American Indian. This task became his full-time
mission for the next two years.
In 1909 Reed returned to Montana. He opened a studio in Kalispell,
MT, near what would become the western entrance to Glacier National
Park. In addition to portrait photography work, he sold copies of his
Indian photographs and Native pottery, baskets, and rugs. He also began
what would become over the next six years an extensive project of
photographing the Plains Indians of Northern Montana and
Southern Alberta, Canada—the Blackfeet, Piegan, Blood,
Flathead, and Cheyenne.
Much of Reed's effort was spent in and around Glacier National
Park against the stunning majesty of the Rocky Mountains. In addition,
he began to work with Louis Hill and the Great Northern Railroad on a
number of different promotional and photographic projects. Many of his
images were used in the Railroad's "See America First" campaign, which
encouraged people to experience the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains by
traveling via the Great Northern Railroad and staying at their grand
lodges in and around Glacier National Park, rather than
traveling to Europe to see the Alps.
Roland (Royal Jr.) W. Reed (June 22, 1864 – December 14, 1934), an
American artist and photographer, was part of an early 20th century
group of photographers of Native Americans known as pictorialists.
Pictorialists were influenced by the late 19th Century art movement,
Impressionism, and their photography was characterized by an emphasis
on lighting and focus. Rather than record an image as it was, pictorialists
were more interested in re-creating an image as they thought it might have
been. Part artist and part scientist, they endeavored to have their re-creations
reflect not only the highest artistic value, but unquestioned ethnological
accuracy as well. At the beginning of the 20th century a number of pictorialists,
noticing the extremely deleterious impact of reservation life on Native Americans,
wanted to recreate in photographs the Indian's life and ways as they had been
in better times, rather than record how it had actually become.
Roland Reed was born near Omro, Wisconsin about eight miles
west of Oshkosh. His father, Royal Sr. (1827-1907), was a farmer
and Civil War veteran. His mother, Mary Jane Hammond
(1834-1904), was a homemaker. Roland was the fourth of six
children. He and his youngest sibling, Mabel, were the
only two to survive to adulthood.
Reed developed an early affinity for Native Americans
through associations he had with neighboring Indians while
growing up. He also fostered a thirst for adventure that would
stay with him throughout his life.
Reed left home at about the age of 18. He journeyed to Minnesota
where he worked in a sawmill for a period of time. In 1885 he had his
first exposure to the Plains Indians while working
for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Shortly afterward, he returned to Minnesota, where he began
a five-year period of exploration and adventure. Traveling
down the Mississippi River to Memphis, TN, he then headed
through the west across Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico, finally
winding up in Montana in 1890. There he went to work for the Great
Northern Railway. He also employed the artistic skills that had been
fostered by his mother doing portrait sketches of Piegan and Blackfeet
Indians as well as landscape sketches and watercolors in
various towns along the Great Northern route.
In 1893 he met Daniel Dutro, a Civil War veteran and
photographer in Havre, MT. Reed apprenticed with Dutro, and
shortly thereafter became Dutro's partner. They furnished Indian
photographs to the news department of the Great Northern Railway
as well as doing studio portrait photography. For a short time in 1897,
Reed worked for the Associated Press in Alaska photographing
the Klondike Gold Rush, but soon returned to Havre, MT.
T. J. Hileman's 1938 photo of Grinnell Glacier has been used as an
early image documenting the state of that glacier in the first half
of the 1900s. Subsequent photos in the ensuing decades, which
have been taken from the same vantage point, show evidence
of a steady state of retreat for that glacier.
In 1985, the Glacier Natural History Association purchased
more than a thousand of Hileman's nitrate negatives, which were
added to the collection of Hileman's albums which already
contained more than 2,000 prints. Some 107 of these photos were
purchased by the Glenbow Museum in Canada, where they comprise
part of their collection relating to Blackfoot history. These photos are
especially valuable to researchers for their examples of Kainai and
South Peigan styles of clothing, hairstyles, ornaments, and housing.
T. J. (Tomar Jacob) Hileman (1882–1945) was an American
photographer born in Marienville, Pennsylvania, who is renowned
for his photos of Glacier Park in Montana, and Blackfoot people.
After working a while in Chicago and graduating from Effingham
School of Photography there, he moved to Colorado and began to take
photographs. In 1911, Hileman moved to Kalispell, Montana to open his
own portrait studio. He and Alice Georgeson were the first couple
to marry in Glacier National Park in 1913.
Appointed the official photographer for the Great Northern
Railway in 1924, Hileman took photos of Glacier National Park and
Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, moving bulky camera
equipment by packhorse, even at times perching on a narrow ledge to get
just the right image on film. He also photographed the Prince of Wales
Hotel in Waterton, Alberta, which was built by the railway. In 1926,
Hileman opened photo-finishing labs in both Glacier Park Lodge and
Many Glacier Hotel, which were convenient for tourists who could
drop off their film evenings and pick up their prints the next morning.
The collection of Frank Rinehart Indian Photographs is currently
preserved at Haskell Indian Nations University. Since 1994, the
collection has been organized, preserved, copied, and cataloged in
a computer database, funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and
the Hallmark Foundation. It includes images from the 1898
Exposition, the 1899 Greater American Exposition, studio
portraits from 1900, and photographs by Rinehart taken
at the Crow Agency in Montana also in 1900.
Rinehart and Muhr photographed American Indians at the
Indian Congress in a studio on the Exposition grounds with an
8 x 10 glass-negative camera with a German lens. Platinum prints
were produced to achieve the broad range of tonal
values that medium afforded.
After the Indian Congress, Rinehart and Muhr travelled the
Indian reservations for two years, portraying Native American
leaders who had not attended the event, as well as depicting
general aspects of the indigenous everyday life and culture.
Tom Southall, former photograph curator at the University
of Kansas' Spencer Art Museum, said of the Rinehart collection:
"The dramatic beauty of these portraits is especially impressive as
a departure from earlier, less sensitive photographs of Native Americans.
Instead of being detached, ethnographic records, the Rinehart photographs
are portraits of individuals with an emphasis on strength of expression.
While Rinehart and Muhr were not the first photographers to portray
Indian subjects with such dignity, this large body of work which was
widely seen and distributed may have had an important influence
in changing subsequent portrayals of Native Americans."
Rinehart married Anna Ransom Johnson (daughter of Willard
Bemis Johnson and Phebe Jane Carpenter) on 5 September 1885 in
Denver County, Colorado. They had two daughters, Ruth
and Helen, both born in Nebraska.
In 1898, and in occasion of the Indian Congress held in conjunction
with the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Rinehart was
commissioned to photograph the event and the Native American
personalities who attended it. Together with his assistant Adolph
Muhr (who would later be employed by the famous photographer
Edward S. Curtis), they produced what is now considered "one
of the best photographic documentations of Indian
leaders at the turn of the century".
Frank Albert Rinehart (February 12 1861 – December 17, 1928) was an
American artist famous for his photography capturing Native American
personalities and scenes, especially portrait settings of leaders
and members of the delegations who attended
the 1898 Indian Congress in Omaha.
German American Rinehart was born in Lodi (now Maple Park),
Illinois. He and his brother, Alfred, moved to Colorado in the 1870s
and found employment at the Charles Bohm photography studio, in
Denver. In 1881 the Rinehart brothers formed a partnership with famous
Western photographer William Henry Jackson, who had achieved widespread
fame for his images of the West. Under Jackson's teachings, Rinehart's
perfected his professional skills, and developed a keen interest in Native
American culture. Frank Rinehart and Anna, the receptionist of Jackson's
studio, married and in 1885 moved to Nebraska. In downtown Omaha,
Rinehart opened a studio in the Brandeis Building,
where he worked until his death.
Edward Curtis took on the daunting task of creating ten thousand Edison
wax cylinder recordings of Indian language and music. The delicate wax
cylinders were often rendered unusable by heat, dirt, excessive moisture,
or a variety of other factors almost impossible to control in the field.
Much of the information he was able to record was incorporated into the
volumes. Many of the recordings still survive at the University of Indiana
archives. They provide an invaluable record, particularly for American
Indians, as they may be the only extant record of
lost language, music, or family histories.
By the end of 1908, Volumes 1 and 2 were completed. But the
financial panic of 1907 had seriously impaired his sales efforts,
and he managed to place far fewer than the five hundred sets
thought necessary to make the project profitable. In fact, as
late as 1930 Curtis had only managed to secure two hundred
subscribers. His Herculean efforts to interest prospective purchasers
were further hampered by a world war, dwindling interest in American
Indians, and perhaps most importantly, the widely held misperception
that J.P. Morgan would pick up the financial slack whenever necessary.
The lack of subscriptions created significant hardships not only for the
project, but also for Curtis personally, whose work on The North American
Indian was forgotten even before the project was completed. Having driven
himself to the limit for thirty years, Curtis suffered a nervous and physical
breakdown, and his whereabouts for the next two years are unknown. Upon
his recovery, Curtis resumed some of his activities as a photographer and did
film work in Hollywood. Yet despite great physical disabilities and hardships,
he never lost his intellectual drive and curiosity. As late as 1949, in his early
eighties, he was deeply involved in researching his new passion and hoped to
write a book entitled “The Lure of Gold.” In 1950 he had even planned t
join a major gold mining expedition to Brazil and the wild regions of the
Amazon and the Andes. Unfortunately, the organizers of the expedition
had a falling-out and the expedition was canceled. Curtis was crushed,
a visit to the Amazon having been a life-long interest. Curtis’ physical
condition further deteriorated and in the fall of
1952, at the age of eighty-four, he died!
While Curtis enjoyed great celebrity, his activities were not
self-sustaining, and he was forced to borrow substantial sums to survive.
Fortunately, among Curtis’ many friends and allies was President Theodore
Roosevelt who provided Curtis with a letter of introduction to J.P. Morgan.
Then one of the most powerful men in the world, Morgan was also a
renounced bibliophile very active in producing elegant limited edition
books on his various collections. At their meeting, Morgan summarily
dismissed Curtis saying he could not take on any more commitments.
Undaunted, Curtis asked that Morgan at least look at his photographs.
Upon seeing the work, the usually intransigent Morgan agreed
to underwrite the project for five years.
When Curtis and Morgan struck their deal, both men assumed a
major publisher would take over the risks and responsibilities of
publishing such a monumental project, leaving Curtis free to concentrate
on the photography and ethnography. Unfortunately, publishing houses
shied away from such an ambitious and capital-intensive undertaking, so
Curtis agreed also to become chief administrator, fundraiser, and
publisher. This was an enormous, backbreaking task. The substantial
costs and demands of being in the field with assistants, interpreters, film
and still cameras, and sound recording equipment paled in comparison to
the cost of making the photogravure plates, pulling the limited edition prints,
and binding the books and portfolios. Each of these steps required more
capital than all the field research combined. Curtis was forced to devote
ever-increasing amounts of time to fundraising and publishing
burdens, which greatly distracted him.
In the field, Curtis instituted his own methodology,
“the twenty-five cardinal points,” to amass information on all areas
of Indian life and lore, including vocabulary, political and social
organization, religious customs, dwellings, food gathering and
preparation, geography, games, music and dance, dress, weights
and measures, and birth, marriage, and death customs. While Curtis
was able to gather significant data on all these subjects, his most
important contribution was in the areas of mythology and spirituality,
fields in which many others had previously failed to gather information.
Curtis often sent assistants ahead months in advance to supplement his
extensive pre-field research. Only when Curtis felt sufficiently briefed by
both his many assistants, led by W.E. Myers, and the leading Indian
scholars, did he begin the actual fieldwork. This depth of
understanding was critical to his success.
Curtis who was soon dubbed the “shadow-catcher.” Word passes
from tribe to tribe. A tribe that I have visited and studied lets another
tribe know that after the present generation has passed away men will
know from this record what they were like, and what they did, and the
second tribe doesn’t want to be left out. Tribes that I won’t reach for four
or five years yet have sent word asking me to come and see them…there
was old Black Eagle, an Assiniboin, ninety years old, who had all of his
life refused to talk about his nation to white men. At last, he became
convinced that his tribe ought to get into the record, and he unbent,
and he gave me a great amount of valuable information.
Edward Sheriff Curtis not only attempted, but actually
achieved the impossible. With The North American Indian, he
created an irreplaceable photographic and ethnographic record of
more than eighty of North America’s native nations – a record first
published between 1907 and 1930, which after decades of obscurity in rare
book rooms and private collections, has experienced its renaissance. Comprising
twenty volumes, twenty portfolios, thousands of pages of text, and more than
twenty- two hundred photogravures, The North American Indian remains not
only an unparalleled artistic and historic achievement, but a
watershed in publishing history.
Encouraged by great public hoopla and imbued with blind faith, Curtis did
not foresee the unremitting sacrifices the project would exact from him. He
hoped to complete the study in five or six years within a budget of $25,000.
In fact, what the New York Herald hailed as “the most gigantic undertaking
since the making of the King James edition of the Bible,” required for its
completion more than thirty years, one and a half million dollars and the
assistance of a vast array of patrons, researchers, scientists, editors, master
craftsmen, interpreters, sympathetic creditors, tribal elders, and medicine men.
Ultimately, the study cost Curtis his family, his financial security and his health.
Nevertheless, to the end, he single-mindedly pursued his intense and powerful vision
with an extraordinary sense of mission to document how Indians lived
prior to their contact with the white man.
Curtis believed, The passing of every old man or woman means the passing
of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other;
consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future
generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind,
must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time.
Curtis removed parasols, suspenders, wagons, and other traces
of Western material culture from many of his images. In his photogravure
In a Piegan Lodge, published in The North American Indian, Curtis
retouched the image to remove a clock between the
two men seated on the ground.
He also is known to have paid natives to pose in staged scenes, wear
historically inaccurate dress and costumes, dance and partake in simulated
ceremonies. In Curtis's picture Oglala War-Party, the image shows 10 Oglala
men wearing feather headdresses, on horseback riding down hill. The photo
caption reads, "a group of Sioux warriors as they appeared in the days of inter
tribal warfare, carefully making their way down a hillside in the vicinity of the
enemy's camp". In truth, headdresses would have been worn only for special
occasions and, in some tribes, only by the chief of the tribe. The photograph was
taken in 1907, when natives had been relegated to reservations and warring
between tribes had ended. Curtis paid natives to pose as warriors at a time
when they lived with little dignity and few rights and freedoms. It has been
suggested that he altered and manipulated his pictures to create an
ethnographic simulation of native tribes untouched by Western society.
Theodore Roosevelt, a contemporary of Curtis's and one of his
most fervent supporters, wrote the following comments in the foreword
to Volume 1 of The North American Indian:
In Mr. Curtis we have both an artist and a trained observer,
whose work has far more than mere accuracy, because it is truthful. …because
of his extraordinary success in making and using his opportunities, has been
able to do what no other man ever has done; what, as far as we can see, no other
man could do. Mr. Curtis in publishing this book is rendering a real and great
service; a service not only to our own people, but to the
world of scholarship everywhere.
Curtis has been praised as a gifted photographer but also
criticized by some contemporary ethnologists for manipulating his
images. Although the early twentieth century was a difficult time for most
Native communities in America, not all natives were doomed to becoming
a "vanishing race." At a time when natives' rights were being denied
and their treaties were unrecognized by the federal government, many
natives were successfully adapting to Western society. By reinforcing the
native identity as the noble savage and a tragic vanishing race, some believe
Curtis deflected attention from the true plight of American natives. At the time
when he was witnessing their squalid conditions on reservations first-hand, they
were attempting to find their place in Western culture
and adapt to their changing world.
"The North American Indian—extensively produced and issued
in a severely limited edition—could not prove popular. But in recent
years anthropologists and others, even when they have censured what
they have assumed were Curtis' methodological assumptions or
quarrelled with the text's conclusions, have begun to appreciate the
value of the project's achievement: exhibitions have been mounted,
anthologies of pictures have been published, and The North American
Indian has increasingly been cited in the researches of others... The
North American Indian is not monolithic or merely a monument. It
is alive, it speaks, if with several voices, and among those perhaps
mingled voices are those of otherwise silent or muted Indian individuals.”
Of the full Curtis opus N. Scott Momaday wrote, "Taken as a
whole, the work of Edward S. Curtis is a singular achievement. Never before
have we seen the Indians of North America so close to the origins of their
humanity...Curtis' photographs comprehend indispensable
images of every human being at every time in every place"
Don Gulbrandsen, the author of Edward Sheriff Curtis: Visions
of the First Americans, put it this way in his introductory essay on
Curtis’s life: “The faces stare out at you, images seemingly from an
ancient time and from a place far, far away…Yet as you gaze at the
faces the humanity becomes apparent, lives filled with dignity but also
sadness and loss, representatives of a world that has all
but disappeared from our planet.
Two hundred seventy-six of the wax cylinders made by Curtis
between 1907 and 1913 are held by the Archives of Traditional
Music at Indiana University. These include recordings of music
of the following Native American groups: Clayoquot, Cowichan, Haida,
Hesquiat, and Kwakiutl, in British Columbia; and Arapaho, Cheyenne,
Cochiti, Crow, Klikitat, Kutenai, Nez Percé, Salish, Shoshoni, Snohomish,
Wishram, Yakima, Acoma, Arikara, Hidatsa, Makah, Mandan, Paloos,
Piegan, Tewa (San Ildefonso, San Juan, Tesuque, Nambé), and possibly
Dakota, Clallam, Twana, Colville and Nespelim
in the western United States.
Toppan Rare Books Library at the University of Wyoming in Laramie,
Wyoming, holds the entire 20 volumes of narrative text and
photogravure images. Each volume is accompanied by
a portfolio of large photogravure plates.
Though Curtis was largely forgotten at the time of his death, interest in
his work revived in the 1970s. Major exhibitions of his photographs were
presented at the Morgan Library & Museum, at the Philadelphia
Museum of Art and the University of California. His work was also
featured in several anthologies on Native American photography
published in the early 1970s. Original printings of The North American
Indian began to fetch high prices at auction. In 1972, a complete set
sold for $20,000. Five years later, another set was auctioned for
$60,500. The revival of interest in Curtis's work can be seen as part
of the increased attention to Native American issues during this period.
Around 1970, Karl Kernberger, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, went to
Boston to search for Curtis's original copper plates and photogravures
at the Charles E. Lauriat rare bookstore. He discovered almost
285,000 original photogravures as well as all the copper plates.
With Jack Loeffler and David Padwa, they jointly purchased all
of the surviving Curtis material that was owned by Charles Emelius
Lauriat (1874–1937). The collection was later purchased by another
group of investors led by Mark Zaplin, of Santa Fe. The Zaplin Group
owned the plates until 1982, when they sold them to a California group
led by Kenneth Zerbe, the owner of the plates as of 2005. 1985 Kern
donated a portion of the collection to the Museum of the American
Indian (National Museum of the American Indian New York)
Charles Goddard Weld purchased 110 prints that Curtis had made
for his 1905–06 exhibit and donated them to the Peabody Essex
Museum, where they remain. The 14" by 17" prints are each unique
and remain in pristine condition. Clark Worswick, curator of
photography for the museum, describes them as:
...Curtis' most carefully selected prints of what was then
his life’s work...certainly these are some of the most glorious
prints ever made in the history of the photographic medium.
The fact that we have this man’s entire show of 1906 is one
of the minor miracles of photography and museology.
The entire 20 volumes of narrative text and photogravure images
for each volume are online. Each volume is accompanied by a
portfolio of large photogravure plates. The online publishing was
supported largely by funds from the Institute
for Museum and Library Services.
The Prints and Photographs Division Curtis collection consists of
more than 2,400 silver-gelatin, first-generation photographic prints – some
of which are sepia-toned – made from Curtis's original glass negatives. Most
are 5 by 7 inches (13 cm × 18 cm) although nearly 100 are 11 by 14 inches
(28 cm × 36 cm) and larger; many include the Curtis file or negative
number in the lower left-hand corner of the image.
The Library of Congress acquired these images as copyright deposits
from about 1900 through 1930. The dates on them are dates of registration,
not the dates when the photographs were taken. About two-thirds (1,608)
of these images were not published in The North American Indian and
therefore offer a different glimpse into Curtis's work with indigenous
cultures. The original glass plate negatives, which had been stored and
nearly forgotten in the basement of the Morgan Library, in New York,
were dispersed during World War II. Many others were
destroyed and some were sold as junk.
On October 19, 1952, at the age of 84, Curtis died of a
heart attack in Los Angeles, California, in the home of his daughter Beth.
He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
A brief obituary appeared in The New York Times on October 20, 1952:
"Edward S. Curtis, internationally known authority on the history
of the North American Indian, died today at the home of a daughter,
Mrs. Beth Magnuson. His age was 84. Mr. Curtis devoted his life to
compiling Indian history. His research was done under the patronage
of the late financier, J. Pierpont Morgan. The forewar for the
monumental set of Curtis books was written by President
Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Curtis was also widely
known as a photographer."
In 1935, the Morgan estate sold the rights to The North
American Indian and remaining unpublished material to the
Charles E. Lauriat Company in Boston for $1,000 plus a percentage
of any future royalties. This included 19 complete bound sets of The
North American Indian, thousands of individual paper prints, the copper
printing plates, the unbound printed pages, and the original glass-plate
negatives. Lauriat bound the remaining loose printed pages and sold
them with the completed sets. The remaining material remained
untouched in the Lauriat basement in Boston until
they were rediscovered in 1972.
In 1892, Curtis married Clara J. Phillips (1874–1932), who was born
in Pennsylvania. Her parents were from Canada. Together they had four
children: Harold (1893–1988); Elizabeth M. (Beth) (1896–1973), who
married Manford E. Magnuson (1895–1993); Florence (1899–1987),
who married Henry Graybill; and Katherine.
In 1896, the entire family moved to a new house in Seattle.
The household then included Curtis's mother, Ellen Sheriff; his sister, Eva
Curtis; his brother, Asahel Curtis; Clara's sisters, Susie and Nellie Phillips;
and their cousin, William.
During the years of work on The North American Indian, Curtis
was often absent from home for most of the year, leaving Clara to
manage the children and the studio by herself. After several years of
estrangement, Clara filed for divorce on October 16, 1916. In 1919 she
was granted the divorce and received Curtis's photographic studio and all
of his original camera negatives as her part of the settlement. Curtis and
his daughter Beth went to the studio and destroyed all of his original glass
negatives, rather than have them become the property of his ex-wife. Clara
went on to manage the Curtis studio with her sister Nellie, who
was married to Martin Lucus (1880–?). Following the divorce, the two
oldest daughters, Beth and Florence, remained in Seattle, living in a
boarding house separate from their mother. The youngest daughter,
Katherine, lived with Clara in Charleston, Kitsap County, Washington.
Curtis was born on February 16, 1868, on a farm near Whitewater,
Wisconsin. His father, the Reverend Asahel "Johnson"
Curtis (1840–1887), was a minister, farmer, and American Civil
War veteran born in Ohio. His mother, Ellen Sheriff (1844–1912),
was born in Pennsylvania. Curtis's siblings were Raphael (1862–c.1885),
also called Ray; Edward, called Eddy; Eva and Asahel Curtis
(1874–1941). Weakened by his experiences in the Civil War, Johnson
Curtis had difficulty in managing his farm, resulting in
hardship and poverty for his family.
Around 1874, the family moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota
to join Johnson Curtis's father, Asahel Curtis, who ran a grocery
store and was a postmaster in Le Sueur County. Curtis left school
in the sixth grade and soon built his own camera
The photographer Ella E. McBride assisted Curtis in his studio
beginning in 1907 and became a friend of the family. She made an
unsuccessful attempt to purchase the studio with Curtis's daughter
Beth in 1916, the year of Curtis's divorce, and left to open her own studio.
Around 1922, Curtis moved to Los Angeles with Beth and opened
a new photo studio. To earn money he worked as an assistant cameraman
for Cecil B. DeMille and was an uncredited assistant cameraman in the
1923 filming of The Ten Commandments. On October 16, 1924, Curtis
sold the rights to his ethnographic motion picture In the Land of the
Head-Hunters to the American Museum of Natural History. He was
paid $1,500 for the master print and the original camera negative. It
had cost him over $20,000 to create the film.
In 1927, after returning from Alaska to Seattle with Beth, Curtis
was arrested for failure to pay alimony over the preceding seven years.
The total owed was $4,500, but the charges were dropped. For Christmas
of 1927, the family was reunited at the home of his daughter Florence in
Medford, Oregon. This was the first time since the divorce that Curtis was
with all of his children at the same time, and it had been
13 years since he had seen Katherine.
In 1928, desperate for cash, Curtis sold the rights to his project to
J. P. Morgan, Jr. The concluding volume of The North American Indian
was published in 1930. In total, about 280 sets were sold
of his now completed magnum opus.
In 1930, his ex-wife, Clara, was still living in Seattle operating
the photo studio with their daughter Katherine. His other daughter,
Florence Curtis, was still living in Medford, Oregon, with her husband,
Henry Graybill. After Clara died of heart failure in 1932, his daughter
Katherine moved to California to be closer to her father and Beth.
Curtis had been using motion picture cameras in fieldwork for The
North American Indian since 1906. He worked extensively with
the ethnographer and British Columbia native George Hunt in 1910,
which inspired his work with the Kwakiutl, but much of their
collaboration remains unpublished. At the end of 1912, Curtis
decided to create a feature film depicting Native American life,
partly as a way of improving his financial situation and partly
because film technology had improved to the point where it was
conceivable to create and screen films more than a few minutes long.
Curtis chose the Kwakiutl tribe, of the Queen Charlotte Strait region
of the Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada, for his subject.
His film, In the Land of the Head Hunters, was the first feature-length
film whose cast was composed entirely of Native North Americans.
In the Land of the Head-Hunters premiered simultaneously
at the Casino Theatre in New York and the Moore Theatre in
Seattle on December 7, 1914. The silent film was accompanied
by a score composed by John J. Braham, a musical theater composer
who had also worked with Gilbert and Sullivan. The film was praised
by critics but made only $3,269.18 in its initial run.
In 1906, J. P. Morgan provided Curtis with $75,000 to produce
a series on Native Americans. This work was to be in 20 volumes with
1,500 photographs. Morgan's funds were to be disbursed over five years and
were earmarked to support only fieldwork for the books, not for writing, editing,
or production of the volumes. Curtis received no salary for the project,
which was to last more than 20 years. Under the terms of the arrangement,
Morgan was to receive 25 sets and 500 original prints as repayment.
Once Curtis had secured funding for the project, he was able to hire
several employees to help him. For writing and for recording Native
American languages, he hired a former journalist, William E. Myers.
For general assistance with logistics and fieldwork, he hired
Bill Phillips, a graduate of the University of Washington. Perhaps the
most important hire for the success of the project was Frederick
Webb Hodge, an anthropologist employed by the Smithsonian
Institution, who had researched Native American peoples of
the southwestern United States. Hodge
was hired to edit the entire series.
Eventually 222 complete sets were published. Curtis's goal was not
just to photograph but also to document as much of Native American
traditional life as possible before that way of life disappeared. He wrote
in the introduction to his first volume in 1907, "The information that is to
be gathered ... respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind,
must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost." Curtis made over
10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American language and music. He
took over 40,000 photographic images of members of over 80 tribes. He recorded
tribal lore and history, and he described traditional foods, housing, garments,
recreation, ceremonies, and funeral customs. He wrote biographical sketches of
tribal leaders. His material, in most cases, is the only written recorded history,
although there is still a rich oral tradition that preserves history. His
work was exhibited at the Rencontres d'Arles festival in France in 1973
In 1885, at the age of 17, Curtis became an apprentice
photographer in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1887 the family moved to Seattle,
Washington, where he purchased a new camera and became a partner with
Rasmus Rothi in an existing photographic studio. Curtis paid $150 for his
50% share in the studio. After about six months, he left Rothi and formed
a new partnership with Thomas Guptill. They established a new studio,
Curtis and Guptill, Photographers and Photoengravers.
In 1895, Curtis met and photographed Princess Angeline
(c. 1820–1896), also known as Kickisomlo, the daughter of
Chief Sealth of Seattle. This was his first portrait of a Native
American. In 1898, three of Curtis's images were chosen for an
exhibition sponsored by the National Photographic Society. Two
were images of Princess Angeline, "The Mussel Gatherer" and
"The Clam Digger". The other was of Puget Sound, entitled
"Homeward", which was awarded the exhibition's grand prize
and a gold medal. In that same year, while photographing Mt. Rainier,
Curtis came upon a small group of scientists. One of them was George
Bird Grinnell, considered an "expert" on Native Americans by his peers.
Curtis was appointed the official photographer of the Harriman Alaska
Expedition of 1899, probably as a result of his friendship with Grinnell.
Having very little formal education Curtis learned much during the
lectures that were given aboard the ship each evening of the voyag.
Grinnell became interested in Curtis's photography and invited him to
join an expedition to photograph people of the Blackfoot
Confederacy in Montana in 1900.
Kachinas are spirits or personifications of things in the real
world. These spirits are believed to visit the Hopi villages where
Zuni tribes also live during the first half of the year. A kachina
can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a
revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural
phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different
kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. The local pantheon of kachinas
varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun,
stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts.
Kachinas are understood as having humanlike relationships; they
may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and
have children. Although not worshipped, each is viewed as a
powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use
his particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing,
fertility, or protection, for example. One observer has written:
The central theme of the kachina [religion] is the presence
of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an
essence or a life force, and humans must interact
with these or fail to survive.
The exact origin of the kachinas is not completely known,
but according to one version of Hopi belief, the kachinas were
beneficent spirit-beings who came with the Hopis from the underworld.
The underworld is a concept common to all the Pueblo Indians. It is
a place where the spirits or shades live: the newly born come from
there and the dead return there. The kachinas wandered with the
Hopis over the world until they arrived at Casa Grande, where
both the Hopis and the kachinas settled for a while. With their
powerful ceremonies, the kachinas brought rain for the crops
and were in general of much help and comfort. Unfortunately,
all of the kachinas were killed when the Hopis were attacked by
enemies and their souls returned to the underworld. Since the
sacred paraphernalia of the kachinas were left behind, the Hopis
began impersonating the kachinas, wearing their masks and
costumes, and imitating their ceremonies in order to bring
rain, good crops, and life's happiness. Kachina dancers,
Shongopovi pueblo, Arizona, sometime before 1900
Another version says that in an early period, the
kachinas danced for the Hopis, bringing them rain
and all the many blessings of life. But eventually, the Hopis
came to take the kachinas for granted, losing all respect and
reverence for them, so the kachinas finally left and returned
to the underworld. However, before they left, the kachinas
taught some of their ceremonies to a few faithful young men
and showed them how to make the masks and costumes. When
the other Hopi realized their loss, they remorsefully turned
to the human substitute of kachinas, and the
ceremonies have continued since then.
Hopi katsina figures (Hopi language: tithu or katsintithu),
also known as kachina dolls are figures carved, typically from
cottonwood root, by Hopi people to instruct young girls and new brides
about katsinas or katsinam, the immortal beings that bring rain,
control other aspects of the natural world and society, and act as
messengers between humans and the spirit world.
Hopi people live primarily on three mesas in Northeastern
Arizona, about 70 miles from Flagstaff. In Hopi cosmology,
the majority of katsinas reside on the Humphreys Peak,
approximately 60 miles west of Hopiland. Each year, throughout
the period from winter solstice to mid-July, these spirits, in the
form of katsinas, come down to the villages to dance and sing,
to bring rain for the upcoming harvest, and to
give gifts to the children.
The katsinas are known to be the spirits of deities, natural elements
or animals, or the deceased ancestors of the Hopi. Prior to each katsina
ceremony, the men of the village will spend days studiously making
figures in the likeness of the katsinam represented in that particular
ceremony. The figures are then passed on to the daughters
of the village by the Giver Kachina during the ceremony. Following
the ceremony, the figures are hung on the walls of the pueblo and are
meant to be studied in order to learn the characteristics of that
certain Kachina. Edward Kennard, co-author of Hopi Kachinas,
says concerning the purpose of the kachina figure, “Essentially it
is a means of education; it is a gift at dance-time; it is a decorative
article for the home, but above all it is a constant
reminder of the Kachinas.
The early forms of the katcina figure belonged to the Early
Traditional Period. Only one piece of cottonwood root was
used to carve the body, although facial features made from
varying sources were occasionally glued on. The figures were
no longer than 8–10 inches and only somewhat resembled human
proportions. Sandpaper and wood finishing tools were generally
unavailable to the Hopi in this era. In order to smooth out the rough
carved surfaces, the figures were rubbed smooth with sandstone and
the flaws in the cottonwood root were coated with kaolin clay.
Their surfaces were not as smooth as in later periods, and the paint
was made of non water-resistant mineral and vegetable pigments.
The figures in this period were stiff and only meant to be hung on
the wall after ceremonies. Starting around 1900, the figures
began to have a more naturalistic look to them as a result of the
white man’s interest and trade. The price of dolls in this period
was on average about $0.25 (adjusted for today’s currency).
Feathered war bonnets (also called warbonnets or headdresses)
are traditionally worn by male leaders of the American Plains
Indians Nations who have earned a place of great respect in
their tribe. Originally they were sometimes worn into battle,
but they are now primarily used for ceremonial occasions.
They are seen as items of great spiritual and political
importance, only to be worn by those who have earned the
right and honour through formal recognition by their People.
Native American tribes consider the presentation of an eagle feather
to be one of their highest marks of respect. Any honored person must
have earned their feather through selfless acts of courage and honour,
or been gifted them in gratitude for their work or service to their tribe.
Traditional deeds that brought honour would include acts of valor in
battle, but also political and diplomatic gains or acts that helped
their community survive and prosper. The esteem attached to eagle
feathers was so high that in many cases, such as a warrior (e.g. Dog
Soldiers of the Cheyenne), only two or three honour feathers might
be awarded in their whole lifetime. Historically, the warrior who was
the first to touch an enemy in battle and escape unscathed
received an eagle feather. When enough feathers were collected,
they might be incorporated into a headdress or some other form
of worn regalia. Headdresses were usually reserved exclusively
for the tribe's chosen political and spiritual leaders.
Roman Nose, who was one of the most influential Cheyenne
warriors of the Plain Indian Wars of the 1860s, was known for
his illustrious warbonnet that was said to protect him during
battle. Several instances record how while wearing his war
bonnet, he rode back and forth before soldiers of the United
States Army and, despite being fired upon, was left unscathed.
While women have traditional regalia that can include
other types of headdresses, historically women did not wear
the Plains warbonnet. However, in recent years a few Indigenous
women who have attained a very high level of respect in their
communities have been ceremonially gifted with headdresses
of the type that were formerly only worn by men.
Due to their historical importance and status, many Native
Americans now consider the wearing of headdresses without
the express permission of tribal leaders to be an affront to their
culture and traditions. Consequently, in cases where non-Native
political leaders have been symbolically allowed to
wear the headdress, this has caused controversy
Totem poles are monumental sculptures, a type of Northwest
Coast art, consisting of poles, posts or pillars, carved with symbols
or figures. They are usually made from large trees, mostly western red
cedar, by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast of North
America (Washington, Oregon, and Canada's western province,
British Columbia). The word totem derives from the Algonquian
(most likely Ojibwe) word odoodem [oˈtuːtɛm], "his kinship group".
The carvings may symbolize or commemorate cultural beliefs that
recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events. The poles
may also serve as functional architectural features, welcome signs for
village visitors, mortuary vessels for the remains of deceased ancestors,
or as a means to publicly ridicule someone. Given the complexity and
symbolic meanings of totem pole carvings, their placement and
importance lies in the observer's knowledge and connection to
the meanings of the figures.
Totem pole carvings were likely preceded by a long history of
decorative carving, with stylistic features borrowed from smaller
prototypes. Eighteenth-century explorers documented the existence
of decorated interior and exterior house posts prior to 1800; however,
due to the lack of efficient carving tools, sufficient wealth, and leisure
time to devote to the craft, the monumental poles placed in front of native
homes along the Pacific Northwest coast probably did not appear in large
numbers until the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Trade and
settlement initially led to the growth of totem pole carving, but governmental
policies and practices of acculturation and assimilation sharply reduced
totem pole production by the end of nineteenth century. Renewed
interest from tourists, collectors, and scholars in the 1880s and
1890s helped document and collect the remaining totem poles, but
nearly all totem pole making had ceased by 1901. Twentieth-century
revivals of the craft, additional research, and continued support
from the public have helped establish new interest in
this regional artistic tradition.
A ceremonial pipe is a particular type of smoking pipe,
used by a number of Native American cultures in their sacred
ceremonies. Traditionally they are used to offer prayers in a religious
ceremony, to make a ceremonial commitment, or to seal a covenant or
treaty. The pipe ceremony may be a component of a larger ceremony,
or held as a sacred ceremony in and of itself. Indigenous peoples of the
Americas who use ceremonial pipes have names for them in each
culture's indigenous language. Not all cultures have pipe traditions,
and there is no single word for all ceremonial pipes across
the hundreds of diverse Native cultures.
Native American ceremonial pipes have sometimes been
called "peace pipes" by Europeans or others whose cultures
do not include these ceremonial objects. However, the smoking
of a ceremonial pipe to seal a peace treaty is only one use of a
ceremonial smoking pipe, by only some of the nations that
utilize them. Various types of ceremonial pipes have been
used by different Native American cultures. The style of pipe,
materials smoked, and ceremonies are unique to the specific
and distinct religions of those nations. Historically, ceremonial
pipes have been used to mark war and peace, as well as
commerce and trade, and social and political decision-making.
Many Native American cultures still practice these ceremonies.
During his travels down the Mississippi River in 1673,
Father Jacques Marquette documented the universal respect
that the ceremonial pipe was shown among all Native peoples he
encountered, even those at war with each other. He claimed that
presenting the pipe during battle would halt the fighting. The
Illinois people gave Marquette such a pipe as a gift to ensure
his safe travel through the interior of the land.
All Native American tribal groups that use the
pipe consider it to be a highly sacred object.
The bowl and stem are separated and carried along with
a tamper, the smoking mixture and other smoking
accessories in a bag or pouch.
Each person has their own ritual about handing
and smoking their pipe. It usually starts by smudging
(purifying) the pipe and all of its parts and accessories
in the smoke of sage, sweet grass, pine or cedar.
Once the pipe has been purified, the stem is connected
to the bowl, the stem being viewed as
male and the bowl as female.
A certain number of pinches of the smoking mixture
are added to the bowl in ceremony. Each pinch is
smudged before loading in the bowl.
The smoking of the pipe generally consists of puffing on it,
not inhaling it. It is viewed as a means of sending one's
prayers to the Great Spirit and making a connection
between the earthly world and the spiritual world.
The pipe figures into Native American culture in many
ways and for each culture there are different uses and
traditions. The intent of this article is not to provide a
comprehensive explanation of the sacred significance of the
pipe in Native American cultures, but to just offer a brief
idea of how pipes have been and are used by Native Americans.
On first contact with Native Americans, the French used
the word "calumet" [from the Latin "calamus", for reed] to refer to the
sacred pipe. Early pipes of the Miami and Illinois were hollow
canes decorated with feathers.
The Lakota sacred pipe, the chanunpa, is an
important part of healing ceremonies conducted by
medicine men. Once a pipe is made, it must be blessed in
a special ceremony that connects it to the original sacred pipe
that was brought to the Lakota by the White Buffalo
Calf Woman. This is to ensure that a good
spirit resides in the pipe.
Native American wooden war clubs were made by craftsmen who took
great pride in their work. The head of the wooden ball clubs were
carefully decorated and embellished to produce unusual effects
such as carvings depicting the round head of the club in the grasp
of an animal being held in the talons of a bird or in the mouth of a
predator. The handle was also elaborately carved and decorated with
representations of animals and birds which were believed to invoke the
spirits of nature. Other carvings depicted creatures that featured in
mythology such as the Thunderbird and the Horned Serpent. Other
carvings depicted arrows, bands or crosses indicating the
number of kills or coups of the warrior.
The Wooden Ball Clubs, also referred to as Ball-headed wooden
clubs or Fixed Ball Clubs, was used to deal blows with the hand
rather than by throwing. The Fixed Ball Clubs were usually made
of beech wood from a sapling that grew out horizontally and upward
from a riverbank, preserving the natural curve of the club without
cutting across the grain and reducing its strength. the root-ball of
the sapling provided the round mass of wood for the ball head.
The Native American Indians were a very creative people.
They have introduced the world to many styles of weapons
still in use today. Although there have been various forms
of the Native American weapons found earlier, the Native
Americans customized their weapons in many ways that
became popular styles around the world.
The weapons that will be outlined in this article were often
times used as tools for hunting or camp use just as much as
they were used in combat. The most popular of the American
Indian weapons are the bow and arrow and the tomahawk.
War clubs originated when Europeans began trading with the
Native American Indians. There are a few different styles of
Native American war clubs:
Gunstock War Clubs
Ball Head War Clubs
The gunstock war club is a war club made from
the stock of a wooden rifle or similar piece of carved wood.
The ball head war club is a club with a ball on the head; sometimes
tipped with a sharp arrow or blade for added combat effect.
The stone club is most frequently associated with the tomahawk in
appearance and style; being basically a stick with a
round stone wrapped to a haft.
Native American Gunstock War Clubs were frequently made
of hard wood or whale bone and embellished with carvings
on the handle and a blade on the head. Embellishments
as engraving or carving of Native American
symbols, the addition of pigment
and brass tacks, was common.
In Native American society, gunstock clubs are used in
Pow Wow ceremonial regalia and in other formal occasions.
The gunstock war club is the primary weapon of practitioners
of Okichitaw, a martial art based on the fighting techniques of
the Assiniboine and Plains Cree Indians. It was recently
rejuvenated by Canadian martial artist, George J. Lépine.
Alongside other indigenous weapons excelling in blunt
force trauma injuries - such as the ball-head clubs and stone-head
tomahawks - the gunstock has a significant presence in tribal warfare
across several different American Indian nations. War clubs were usually
made of straight grain hard woods like maple, ash, oak, hickory or
hornbeam (depending on the region of its use) and weighed from
two to three pounds. With swinging force focused onto the small
striking edges of the club, the gunstock club could hit with
remarkable power. The lethality of the club was further increased
by the addition of a short spear point or one or more blades
positioned near the elbow of the club. Blades could be flint,
horn, or iron. An inspiration for the heart-shaped blade
may have been the ornate European pole-arm, the Spontoon.
The introduction of forged iron and steel knives from European
settlers to American Indian tribes across the United States may
have contributed to the popularity of the gunstock club. For example,
an excavated Plains Indian carved gunstock club from the late 19th
century was found set with three butcher knife blades marked
"Lamson and Goodnow Mfg. Co. Patent March 6, 1860."
The clubs were often embellished with brass tacks
and the wood was carved with geometric
or representational designs.
The gunstock club or gun stock war club is an indigenous
weapon used by Native Americans, named for its similar appearance
to the wooden stocks of muskets and rifles of the time. Gunstock clubs
were most predominantly used by Eastern Woodland, Central and
Northern Plains tribes in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Although well known as an indigenous weapon encountered
in several American Indian tribes across the northern United States
and Canada, details of its early development continue to elude
historians. They were first used in the late 17th century but
were in use by Northern Plains tribes, such as the
Lakota by the mid-19th century.
Many sources have claimed that indigenous tribes created
the design based upon European firearms. The tribes who encountered
British, French, and colonial soldiers were impressed by their usage of
a musket that, once its shot was spent, could easily be reversed, held by
the metal barrel, and used as a harrowing bludgeoning weapon in close
quarters combat. Other historical sources have claimed that several
tribes obtained muskets from traders and later modified them into
club weapons. However, with substantial holes already carved
out of the crook of the gunstock - the focal striking area - for the
metal loading and firing mechanisms of the musket, a club of this
design would not have withstood repeated usage before breaking.
Furthermore, none of the original war clubs excavated from
archaeological digs have borne any indication that they
started out as an actual firearm, as they lack lock and
barrel inlets, and many are instead flat and board-like.
Another theory is that muskets and rifles of sixteenth-century
Europeans merely provided the inspiration for the design of the
gunstock war club. American Indian tribes, impressed with the
thundering power of the musket as well as its dual usage in close
quarters battles, may have tried to capitalize on the awe and terror
created by European muskets by fashioning similarly designed clubs.
Carrying these clubs closely resembling European muskets, American
Indian tribes might have gained a psychological
advantage over rival tribes in battle.
A third theory posed by some historians and several American
Indian activist groups contends that the gunstock war club is
simply a coincidence of design, developed independently
years before the arrival of Europeans.
Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of Europeans
to the Americas has led to centuries of population, cultural, and agricultural
transfer and adjustment between Old and New World societies, a process
known as the Columbian exchange. Most Native American groups had
historically preserved their histories by oral traditions and artwork,
which has resulted in the first written sources on the conflict
being authored by Europeans.
At the time of first contact, the indigenous cultures
were quite different from those of the proto-industrial and
mostly Christian immigrants. Some of the Northeastern and
Southwestern cultures in particular were matrilineal and
operated on a more collective basis than the Europeans were
familiar with. The majority of Indigenous American tribes
maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for
use of the entire tribe. Europeans at that time had patriarchal
cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights
with respect to land that were extremely different. The differences
in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant
Europeans, as well as shifting alliances among different nations in
times of war, caused extensive political tension, ethnic violence,
and social disruption. Even before the European settlement of
what is now the United States, Native Americans suffered high
fatalities from contact with European diseases spread throughout
the Americas by the Spanish to which they had yet not acquired
immunity. Smallpox epidemics are thought to have caused the
greatest loss of life for indigenous populations, although
estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today
constitutes the U.S. vary significantly, from one
million to eighteen million.
The "Bat Wing" shaped tomahawk heads first appeared in the
1860-65 period and originated in the high plains/plateau region.
It is thought that it was a blacksmith who worked at either
Fort Peck, or perhaps one on the upper high plains/plateau
region. There are only a small handful of old photographs from
the 1800's of Indians holding batwing tomahawks, I think maybe
only 6 or 8 photos. They are all Shoshone, Nez Perce or Crow Indians.
Therefore, because these type of tomahawks were never seen in the
hands of any Sioux, Arapahoe, Blackfoot, Pawnee, Chippewa, Cree
or other tribes, we can conclude the source that made them only
traded and sold them to local tribes in his area. These batwing
tomahawks were only found with plateau tribes like the Crow,
Shoshone and Nez Perce, never central or northern Plains tribes
like the Sioux or Cheyenne. John Baldwin had information in
one of his books that the blacksmith that made these was later
killed by Indians in the 1875 period. And that may have been
true because they stopped appearing and were never produced
in any great numbers. So their rarity and value is based on the
fact that they were produced in very low numbers and only
used by a small number of tribes, coupled with the fact
that so few examples survived and exist today in
any private collections or museums.
There are only 2 authentic single batwing cutout
pipe tomahawks in any private collection
or museum in the world.
There are only approximately 20 known double
batwing pipe tomahawks documented in any old
photograph, museum or private collection They
are that rare. That's it; approximately 20.
There are only 4 authentic triple batwing known examples
known, one of which is in the late John Baldwin's family
trust collection and another is owned by the
artist / photographer David Howard.
Double bat wing tomahawks are some of the rarest American
Indian tomahawks in the world. The shape does not really resemble
a "bat's wing" at all, although some collectors thought them to be
a stylized bird in flight others thought they resemble royalty crowns...
but tomahawk and American Indian weapons collectors refer to them
as "batwing" cut outs. Nobody surely knows why the blacksmiths
that made them ceated that style or shape of cut outs in the blade. Was
it first started by an Indian request? Was the blacksmith having a little
fun at work that day and came up with the design on his own?
Nobody knows for sure, but here's what we do know:
Authentic batwings; the heads are forged, never cast.
The moulding, "V" or chevron, pipe bowl rings, are all hand filed.
There is a small, rear-facing, spur. The doubles all have an
extended collar or "eyehole" where the haft goes through. About
1/2 inch longer than it really needs to be. It's unknow why this
was done, but it is just how authentic examples were made and depicted
in old photos as our guides. The copper inserts are copper on the
doubles, poured brass on the triples. Authentic doubles that feature
the copper inserts ( some have them, others don't ) number in 7, never 9,
never 5. When you look closely at how the punch-dot stippling was done,
you will see little mistakes and stop and start points because they
were hand-hammered. Authentic triple batwing or triple
cut out examples have 4 inserts.
Originally (early 1600's Jamestown era) the Algonquin
term 'tӓmӓhâk' used by the local Virginia Algonquian Indians,
& a similar name by the Renape, referred to virtually ANY stone
cutting implement or wooden war club referring to a head breaker--or
at least according to the colonists of the time. The French and those
allied with them called them "casse-têtes". Then when Europeans
began trading the iron hatchets the English corrupted version of the
term tomahawk grew to apply only to iron axes traded to Indians in
Virginia in the 1620's. This is an oversimplification of the origin and
definition however early translations, dialects, nuances and tribes have
broadened the definitions to ridiculousness. We are probably never going
to know the precise origins/definitions from each tribe from the
earliest point of European contact. Linguistics did not exist at
the time and early settler translators didn't always precisely
interpret the meaning correctly of some words. As time went
on the differentiation, & also confusion, between tomahawks
and every other axe/hatchet/war club, etc. expanded, much to
the chagrin of researchers trying to follow their history.
Today most collectors and museums refer to stone
tomahawks as simply 'stone axes' although at the time some
early writers claim it was also considered a tomahawk.
Native Americans embellished tomahawks, rifles, scabbards,
knives, beaded sheaths, ball clubs, root clubs, spiked gunstock
clubs and axes. Weapons were used by Native Americans
to hunt game and do battle with other tribes and white
settlers. Typical weapons include clubs, hatchets, knives,
spears, and bows. As early as 1700, some tribes began
to adopt firearms for both hunting and warfare. However
white-settler controlled supplies of gunpowder and firearms
ensured that traditional native weapons were not abandoned.
Pre-contact Native Americans lacked ironmaking
technology, so tomahawks were not fitted with metal axe
heads until they could be obtained from trade with
Europeans. The tomahawk's original designs were fitted
with heads of bladed or rounded stone or deer antler.
The modern tomahawk shaft is usually less than 2 ft in length,
traditionally made of hickory, ash, or maple. The heads weigh
anywhere from 9–20 oz , with a cutting edge usually not
much longer than four inches from toe to heel. The poll can
feature a hammer, spike, or may simply be rounded off, and they
usually do not have lugs. These sometimes had a pipe-bowl
carved into the poll, and a hole drilled down the center of the
shaft for smoking tobacco through the tomahawk. There are also
metal-headed versions of this unusual pipe. Pipe tomahawks
are artifacts unique to North America: created by Europeans
as trade objects but often exchanged as diplomatic gifts. They
were symbols of the choice Europeans and Native Americans
faced whenever they met: one end was the pipe
of peace, the other an axe of war.
In colonial French territory, a very different tomahawk
design, closer to the ancient European francisca, was in use
by French settlers and indigenous peoples. In the late 18th
century, the British Army issued tomahawks to their colonial
regulars during the American Revolutionary
War as a weapon and tool.
The Algonquian Indians in early America created
the tomahawk. Before Europeans came to the continent,
Native Americans would use stones attached to wooden
handles, secured with strips of rawhide. Though typically
used as weapons, they could also be used for everyday
tasks, such as chopping, cutting or hunting.
When Europeans arrived, they introduced the metal
blade to the natives, which improved the effectiveness
of the tool. Metal did not break as readily as stone and
could be fashioned for additional uses. Native Americans
created a tomahawk’s poll, the side opposite the blade,
which consisted of a hammer, spike or a pipe. These
became known as pipe tomahawks, which consisted of a
bowl on the poll and a hollowed out shaft. These were created
by European and American artisans for trade
and diplomatic gifts for the tribes
The Sioux are groups of Native American tribes and
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 Sioux comprise
three major divisions based on language divisions:
the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota.
The Great Sioux War of 1876 comprised a series of battles
between the Lakota and allied tribes such as the Cheyenne
against the United States military. The earliest engagement
was the Battle of Powder River, and the final battle was the
Wolf Mountain. Included are the Battle of the Rosebud, Battle
of the Little Bighorn, Battle of Warbonnet Creek, Battle of Slim
Buttes, Battle of Cedar Creek, and the Dull Knife Fight. The Great
Sioux War of 1876–77 was also known as the Black Hills War, and
was centered on the Lakota tribes of the Sioux, although several
natives believe that the primary target of the United States military
was the Northern Cheyenne tribe. The series of battles occurred in
Montana territory, Dakota territory, and Wyoming territory, and
resulted in a victory for the United States military.
In the late 19th century, railroads wanted to build tracks
through Indian lands. The railroad companies hired hunters
to exterminate the bison herds, the Plains Indians' primary
food supply. The Dakota and Lakota were forced to accept
US-defined reservations in exchange for the rest of their lands
and farming and ranching of domestic cattle, as opposed to a
nomadic, hunting economy. During the first years of the
Reservation Era, the Sioux people depended upon annual
federal payments guaranteed by treaty for survival.
In Minnesota, the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and
Mendota in 1851 left the Dakota with a reservation 20 miles
wide on each side of the Minnesota River.
Today, half of all enrolled Sioux in the United States live
off reservation. Enrolled members in any of the Sioux tribes
in the United States are required to have ancestry that is at
least 1/4 degree Sioux (the equivalent to one grandparent).
In Canada, the Canadian government recognizes the
tribal community as First Nations. The land holdings
of these First Nations are called Indian reserves.
armed conflict between the Sioux and the United States. It was
described as a "massacre" by General Nelson A. Miles in a letter
to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
On December 29, 1890, five hundred troops of the 7th Cavalry
Regiment, supported by four Hotchkiss guns (a lightweight artillery piece
capable of rapid fire), surrounded an encampment of the Lakota Sioux
bands of the Miniconjou and Hunkpapa with orders to escort them to the
railroad for transport to Omaha, Nebraska.
By the time it was over, 25 troopers and more than 150
Lakota Sioux lay dead, including men, women, and children.
It remains unknown which side was responsible for the first
shot; some of the soldiers are believed to have been the victims
of "friendly fire" because the shooting took place at point-blank
range in chaotic conditions. Around 150 Lakota are believed
to have fled the chaos, many of whom may
have died from hypothermia.
The Lakȟóta people; also known as Teton, Thítȟuŋwaŋ
("prairie dwellers"), and Teton Sioux are part of a confederation
of seven related Sioux tribes, the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ or seven council
fires, and as such one of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains
of North America. They speak the Lakota language, the
westernmost of the three Siouan language groups, occupying
lands in both North and South Dakota.
Siouan language speakers may have originated in the lower
Mississippi River region and then migrated to or originated in the
Ohio Valley. They were agriculturalists and may have been part
of the Mound Builder civilization during the 9th–12th centuries CE.
In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Dakota-Lakota speakers lived
in the upper Mississippi Region in present-day Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Iowa, and the Dakotas. Conflicts with Anishnaabe and Cree peoples
pushed the Lakota west onto the Great Plains in the
mid- to late-17th century.
Early Lakota history is recorded in their Winter counts
(Lakota: waníyetu wówapi), pictorial calendars painted on hides or later
recorded on paper. The Battiste Good winter count records Lakota history
back to 900 CE, when White Buffalo Calf Woman gave the Lakota people
the White Buffalo Calf Pipe.
Around 1730, Cheyenne people introduced the Lakota to horses,
called šuŋkawakaŋ ("dog [of] power/mystery/wonder"). After their adoption
of horse culture, Lakota society centered on the buffalo hunt on horseback.
The total population of the Sioux (Lakota, Santee, Yankton, and Yanktonai)
was estimated at 28,000 by French explorers in 1660. The Lakota population
was first estimated at 8,500 in 1805, growing steadily and reaching 16,110 in
1881. The Lakota were, thus, one of the few Native American tribes to
increase in population in the 19th century. The number of Lakota
has now increased to more than 170,000, of whom about 2,000
still speak the Lakota language (Lakȟótiyapi).
After 1720, the Lakota branch of the Seven Council Fires split
into two major sects, the Saône who moved to the Lake Traverse
area on the South Dakota–North Dakota–Minnesota border, and
the Oglála-Sičháŋǧu who occupied the James River valley. However,
by about 1750 the Saône had moved to the east bank of the Missouri
River, followed 10 years later by the Oglála and Brulé (Sičháŋǧu).
The large and powerful Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa
villages had long prevented the Lakota from crossing the Missouri.
However, the great smallpox epidemic of 1772–1780 destroyed
three-quarters of these tribes. The Lakota crossed the river into
the drier, short-grass prairies of the High Plains. These newcomers
were the Saône, well-mounted and increasingly confident, who
spread out quickly. In 1765, a Saône exploring and raiding party
led by Chief Standing Bear discovered the Black Hills (the Paha Sapa),
then the territory of the Cheyenne. Ten years later, the Oglála and Brulé
also crossed the river. In 1776, the Lakota defeated the Cheyenne, who
had earlier taken the region from the Kiowa. The Cheyenne then
moved west to the Powder River country, and the Lakota
made the Black Hills their home.
The Cheyenne are one of the Indigenous peoples of the
Great Plains and their language is of the Algonquian language family.
The Cheyenne comprise two Native American tribes, the Só'taeo'o or
Só'taétaneo'o (more commonly spelled as Suhtai or Sutaio) and
the Tsétsêhéstâhese (also spelled Tsitsistas). These tribes merged in
the early 19th century. Today, the Cheyenne people are split into two
federally recognized Nations: the Southern Cheyenne, who are
enrolled in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, and
the Northern Cheyenne, who are enrolled in the Northern Cheyenne
Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana.
At the time of their first contact with the Europeans, the Cheyenne
were living in the area of what is now Minnesota. At times they have
been allied with the Lakota and Arapaho, and at other points enemies
of the Lakota. In the early 18th century they migrated west across the
Mississippi River and into North and South Dakota, where they adopted
the horse culture. Having settled the Black Hills of South Dakota and the
Powder River Country of present-day Montana, they introduced the horse
culture to Lakota bands about 1730. Allied with the Arapaho, the Cheyenne
pushed the Kiowa to the Southern Plains. In turn, they were pushed
west by the more numerous Lakota.
The Cheyenne Nation or Tsêhéstáno was at one time composed
of ten bands that spread across the Great Plains from southern Colorado
to the Black Hills in South Dakota. They fought their traditional enemies,
the Crow and later (1856–79) the United States Army forces. In the
mid-19th century, the bands began to split, with some bands choosing
to remain near the Black Hills, while others chose to remain near
the Platte Rivers of central Colorado.
The Northern Cheyenne, known in Cheyenne either as
Notameohmésêhese, meaning "Northern Eaters" or simply
as Ohmésêhese meaning "Eaters", live in southeastern Montana
on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Tribal enrollment
figures, as of late 2014, indicate that there are approximately
10,840 members, of which about 4,939 reside on the reservation.
Approximately 91% of the population are Native Americans
(full or part race), with 72.8% identifying themselves as
Cheyenne. Slightly more than one quarter of the population
five years or older spoke a language other than English.
The Southern Cheyenne, known in Cheyenne as
Heévâhetaneo'o meaning "Roped People", together with
the Southern Arapaho, form the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes,
in western Oklahoma. Their combined population is 12,130,
as of 2008. In 2003, approximately 8,000 of these identified
themselves as Cheyenne, although with continuing intermarriage
it has become increasingly difficult to separate the tribes.
The Apache are culturally related Native American tribes
from the Southwestern United States, and have traditionally
lived in Eastern Arizona, Northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua),
New Mexico, West Texas, and Southern Colorado. These areas are
collectively known as Apacheria. Their collective homelands consist
of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons,
deserts, and the southern Great Plains. The Apache tribes fought
the invading Spanish and Mexican peoples for centuries. The first
Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late
17th century. In 19th-century confrontations during the
American-Indian wars, the U.S. Army found the
Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.
Apache groups are politically autonomous. The major groups
speak several different languages and developed distinct and
competitive cultures. The current post-colonial division of Apache
groups includes Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla,
Lipan, and Plains Apache (also known as the Kiowa-Apache).
Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations
in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout
the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers. Many
Native American Indians stayed in present-day Mexico in the State
of Chihuahua near the Sierra Madre occidental
called "Sierra Tarahumara"
The people who are known today as Apache were first
encountered by the Conquistadors of the Spanish Crown,
and thus the term Apache has its roots in the Spanish language.
The Spanish first used the term "Apachu de Nabajo" (Navajo) in the 1620s,
referring to people in the Chama region east of the San Juan River. By the
1640s, they applied the term to southern Athabaskan peoples from the
Chama on the east to the San Juan on the west. The ultimate
origin is uncertain and lost to Spanish history.
Modern Apache people today, and the US government,
maintain use of the Spanish term to describe themselves and
tribal functions. Indigenous lineages who also speak the language
that was handed down to them would also refer to themselves and
their people in that language's term Inde meaning "person" and/or
"People". Distant cousins and a subgroup of the Apache, generally,
are the Navajo Peoples who in their own language
refer to themselves as the Diné.
The first known written record in Spanish is by Juan de Oñate in 1598.
The most widely accepted origin theory suggests Apache was
borrowed and transliterated from the Zuni word ʔa·paču
meaning "Navajos" (the plural of paču "Navajo").
Another theory suggests the term comes from Yavapai ʔpačə
meaning "enemy". The Zuni and Yavapai sources are
less certain because Oñate used the term before he had
encountered any Zuni or Yavapai. A less likely origin
may be from Spanish mapache, meaning "raccoon".
The fame of the tribes' tenacity and fighting skills,
probably bolstered by dime novels, was widely known
among Europeans. In early 20th century Parisian
society, the word Apache was adopted into
French, essentially meaning an outlaw.
The term Apachean includes the
related Navajo people.
Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of
Europeans to the Americas has led to centuries of population,
cultural, and agricultural transfer and adjustment between
Old and New World societies, a process known as the
Columbian exchange. Most Native American groups
had historically preserved their histories by oral traditions
and artwork, which has resulted in the first written
sources on the conflict being authored by Europeans.
At the time of first contact, the indigenous cultures were
quite different from those of the proto-industrial and mostly
Christian immigrants. Some of the Northeastern and
Southwestern cultures in particular were matrilineal and
operated on a more collective basis than the Europeans
were familiar with. The majority of Indigenous American
tribes maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural
lands for use of the entire tribe. Europeans at that time had
patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual
property rights with respect to land that were extremely
different. The differences in cultures between the established
Native Americans and immigrant Europeans, as well as shifting
alliances among different nations in times of war, caused extensive
political tension, ethnic violence, and social disruption. Even
before the European settlement of what is now the United States,
Native Americans suffered high fatalities from contact
with European diseases spread throughout the Americas
by the Spanish to which they had yet not acquired immunity.
Smallpox epidemics are thought to have caused the greatest
loss of life for indigenous populations, although estimates of
the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the
U.S. vary significantly, from one million to eighteen million.
After the thirteen colonies revolted against Great Britain
and established the United States, President George
Washington and Henry Knox conceived of the idea of
"civilizing" Native Americans in preparation for
assimilation as U.S. citizens. Assimilation (whether
voluntary, as with the Choctaw, or forced) became a consistent
policy through American administrations. During the 19th
century, the ideology of manifest destiny became integral to
the American nationalist movement. Expansion of
European-American populations to the west after the
American Revolution resulted in increasing pressure on
Native American lands, warfare between the groups, and
rising tensions. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian
Removal Act, authorizing the government to relocate Native
Americans from their homelands within established states to
lands west of the Mississippi River, accommodating
European-American expansion. This resulted in the ethnic
cleansing of many tribes, with the brutal, forced marches
coming to be known as The Trail of Tears.
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