American Indians from Almagre Books
American Indians from Almagre Books.
By Michael Stillman
Almagre Books of Santa Fe has issued a catalogue titled American Indians. It contains almost 500 items pertaining to America's first inhabitants. Dozens of tribes are represented, as are printings of government treaties and other documents concerning the natives (many of which were means of taking more of their land). There are accounts of wars, removals from ancestral lands east of the Mississippi, captivities, and even some strange ways some less than honest businessmen tried to exploit Indian culture to make a fast buck. You won't find many cowboys in this catalogue, but it is filled with material for those interested in America's Indians.
Item 417 was a timely book: A History of the Sioux Agreement. Some Facts That Should Not Be Forgotten. This work by Thomas A. Bland was published by the National Indian Defense Association. While the Indians still had overwhelmingly bad press in the U.S., there were some people who saw the injustices they faced, Bland being one. He speaks of the forced assimilation to which the Sioux were subjected and the stealing of their land by the government to give to settlers and railroads. The timing of this publication was circa 1888, not long before the final Indian war in America, when a group of the Sioux was overwhelmed in the horrific Wounded Knee Massacre. Priced at $175.
George Bird Grinnell was one of America's greatest naturalists. He studied the wildlife and people of the plains for decades. He was the naturalist with General Custer in 1874, wisely opting not to rejoin him in 1876. Grinnell spent time with everyone from the Indians of the West to another notable conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt. Along with his studies of natural history, Grinnell particularly focused on the Cheyenne Indians, and in 1915 he published this book: The Fighting Cheyennes. It covers the wars in which this tribe was involved, starting in 1838 and including the Little Big Horn. Item 101. $225.
Item 252 is a Map Showing Indian Reservations Within the Limits of the United States... This map shows Indian reservations, pueblos, communities and schools, along with army forts, many no longer in existence, as of the 1890 census. Published by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1892. $175.
Item 437 was one of the more interesting jokes/frauds perpetrated on the public: The Works of Sitting Bull in the Original French and Latin, with Translations, Diligently Compared. This item was created by Robert Dunlap Clarke, and evidently many people fell for it. Sitting Bull was a man of many skills, but speaking multiple European languages was not one of them. Clarke managed to convince many people that the great chief spoke French, Latin, Greek and German, and graduated from Oxford University. Clarke had served in the army at various forts in the West and had been on General Crook's staff, undoubtedly adding perceived authenticity to his claims. Offered is the 1878 edition, issued the year following the first. $1,750.
American Indians from Almagre Books
The Kickapoo Dream Book promoted dubious medical remedies.
If Sitting Bull could speak Latin, then part-Mohawk Rev. Eleazar Williams was King Louis XVII of France. Louis XVII was the son of Louis XVI, and when his father was guillotined during the French Revolution, XVII became king. It wasn't a pleasant reign. He spent the entirety of it in prison, a rough fate for someone who ascended to the thrown at just 7 years of age. The brutality of the French Revolution subjected the child to punishment for the sins of his father. He finally died in prison at the age of 10 ... or did he? According to John H. Hanson, young Louis was spirited away to an Iroquois community in America, where he grew up to be the Rev. Williams. If you don't believe this, maybe this will convince you: The Lost Prince, Facts Tending to Prove the Identity of Louis the Seventeenth, of France, and the Rev. Eleazar Williams, Missionary Among the Indians of North America. This book was published in 1854, and evidently young Louis was the Anastasia of the era. Item 464. $225.
Item 264 is the Kickapoo Indian Dream Book, published by the Kickapoo Medicine Co, circa 1893. While Indians were generally portrayed as ignorant savages, people were at the same time frequently convinced they had discovered great medical remedies. There were always merchants ready to ply the gullibility of the uneducated. This book promotes Healy and Bigelow's Kickapoo remedies, showing pictures of Indians aged 92 to 123 whose long lives could be attributed to these elixirs. $275.
Actually, if you would like to see for yourself, item 265 is a bottle of Kickapoo Pills from the Kickapoo Medicine Co. (Healy and Bigelow). The bottle notes "None genuine without our seal which must be entire and unbroken." The little red pills inside are genuine. They will help you if you suffer from "lazy and disordered liver, biliousness, constipation, sick headache, and torpid bowels." You have my sympathy. Hopefully, there's no expiration date on these pills as they have been around since 1906. $300.
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