Illustrations of the Manners, Customs, & Condition of the North American Indians. With Letters and Notes, Written during eight years of travel and adventures among the wildest and most remarkable tribes now existing. In Two Volumes
George Catlin (1796-1872) spent eight years visiting the Blackfeet, Pawnees, Comanchees, Iroquois, Shawnee, Cherokee, Sioux, Winnebagoes, Seminoles, etc., during the 1830s. Studying their habits, customs, and modes of life, he made notes and numerous sketches of ceremonies, buffalo hunts, symbols, and totems. Catlin’s unprecedented fieldwork culminated in more than 500 oil paintings and his now-legendary journals, first published in New York in 1841. These volumes are the first, last, and most complete record of the Plains Indians ever made at the height of their culture, soon to be destroyed by traders’ liquor, disease, the US army, and other forces of "civilization." For the most part, Catlin describes what he sees and makes no attempt to theorize about the origins of the native peoples he visits. Interestingly, however, while he believes the aboriginals arrived in North America "by the way of Behring's Straits from the north of Asia" (Vol. II p. 260), he is also convinced "that they have Jewish blood in their veins" (p. 261) and offers comparisons between native and Jewish culture. He states his reason for describing their cultures in detail: "their character and customs, are at this time, a subject of interest and importance, and rendered peculiarly so from the facts that they are dying at the hands of their Christian neighbours ... there will probably be no effectual plan instituted, that will save the remainder of them from a similar fate" (269). Altogether these volumes are an illuminating description of, in Catlin's words, "interesting and talented people" (277) who he feared were about to perish.
Publisher: Chatto and Windus
Date Published: 1876
Place Published: London
Condition: Very good
Dust Jacket: No
Jacket Condition: n/a
Details: 2 vols.: viii, 264; viii, 265 p., interspersed with plates. 26 cm. 312 colour engraved illustrations from the author's original paintings, including fold-out colour map at front of vol. I. Another frontispiece map in Vol. 2 and another colour map in Appendix. Altogether 180 colour plates. Rebound in quarter leather with paper boards. Faint mark on spine in vol. II. Stain to vol. I p. 150 affecting margin of plate opposite. Slight scuff to edge of text block in vol. II does not affect pages much. Occasional spots, tiny tears or thumbing but overall clean and neat.