The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company

In the autumn of 1879 residents of Boston arriving at the central railway station were greeted by a novel spectacle. A gentleman flamboyantly dressed in tuxedo, high silk hat and clothing that shimmered, was lecturing to an audience seated in front of him. Suddenly the air was shattered by the bloodcurdling whoops of Indian war… Read More

William Henry Jackson, photographic pioneer of the Old West

In August 1870 a small detachment of US cavalry left Camp Carlin, an army supply depot just outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. Following close behind was Ferdinand Hayden, explorer and formerly professor of geology at the University of Pennsylvania. Accompanying him were a motley group of scientists, including a mineralogist, a botanist and a topographical artist. This… Read More

Beads and beadwork of Native Americans

Beading is one of the most characteristic and enduring art forms of Native Americans. Unfortunately since the 1960’s it has been imitated in oriental factories and imported very cheaply, almost completely drowning out high quality native beadwork. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 goes a long way to remedying this, making it a… Read More

The frontier trading post

Trading posts were establishments, usually found at key places on trade routes, where goods were both bought and sold. What was most commonly bought by the posts was a valuable commodity yielded in abundance by the rough country of the frontiers: furs of various animals which had been either hunted or trapped. What was bought… Read More

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed is an American legend. Some of the popular ideas which surround him, created as they were by stories, cartoons and films, are not accurate. However he was genuinely admirable, and he introduced the cultivation of apples to many states even, it is thought, as far south as Texas. His real name was John… Read More

Native American lifestyle

The hunter-gatherer lifestyle of Native Americans persisted right into the nineteenth century and ran parallel to the industrial age. The different tribes had frequently been at war with one another, and atrocities were committed between them as well as upon white settlers, and yet the idyll of their lives persists in literature, films, songs and… Read More

Indians in the house

‘Indians in the house’ is the title of the chapter in ‘Little house on the prairie’ in which Laura describes the frightening occasion when two Indians come into their house, dressed in reeking skunk skins, and demand that Ma cook them cornbread. After eating it, they go away, taking all Pa’s tobacco. This isn’t the… Read More

Protection of Native American arts and crafts

Native American art is rich in original and instantly recognisable forms, materials, colours and stories. When we think of tribes in their heyday, we conjure up images of teepees decorated with symbolic designs, totem poles, beaded moccasins, patterned pottery, even feather headdresses. The use of such artefacts belongs of course to days gone by, but… Read More

Native Americans today

The federal government of the United States recognises 566 Native American tribes while more than 200 have not received this recognition. Achieving federal recognition as a tribe is a tough ordeal for tribal elders who have to submit extensive genealogical proof of tribal descent and also evidence of the continuity of the tribe’s culture. Not… Read More