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Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs and Conditions of the North American Indians Volumes One & Two
By: George Catlin
Crow, Blackfoot, Pawnee, Sioux, Comanche, Mandan, Choctaw, Cheyenne, Winnebago, Creek, Assiniboin; wild prairies teeming with buffalo. the sacred site of Catlinite stone--all were subjects of Catlin's letters and paintings. For eight years (1832 - 39) George Catlin ventured among the Indians of the North American Plains capturing in verbal and visual pictures every facet of their lives. For the rest of his life, Catlin carried to Eastern America and Europe the true pictures of the North American Indians enjoying their last years of freedom and dignity in their native home.
Catlin's book is an adventure. It is an adventure of the painter who was called "the great white medicine man" for his ability to paint. It is an adventure of a self-taught painter who vowed: "...nothing short of the loss of my life, shall prevent me visiting their country, and of becoming their historian." It is a story of the great mysteries of the many tribes of Indians he visited--the mysteries of costume, posture and myth, the mystery of weapons, hunts and manly games, the mystery of a life still close in connection with the Great Spirit, with the buffalo and with the traditions of thousands of years, all which would soon be destroyed. "Art may mourn," said Catlin," when these people are swept from the earth." Most importantly, his book is a book of direct, fresh and accurate illustrations, illustrations that keep the best in Indian life alive.
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