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Letters & Notes on the North American Indians, George Catlin


Written in the 1800s, published in 1841, in 2 volumes, an astonishing work by Catlin, by far, the most extensive work done on the North American Indians who ruled the land back during that time. The frontier itself- the advancing boundary b/w the cultures- was always the zone of disease, despair, and desperation, precisely because it was a tumultuous zone. Civilization was destined to obliterate the race and beauty of nature. Many at that time saw Native Americans as dark, relentless, cruel ,and murderous… Catlin saw them as a high rank, a higher order of honorable and highly intellectual beings. He met numerous tribes… those known as grayhairs where ten out of every twelve, no matter the age, had gray hair; the Iroquois, one of the most powerful tribes that ever existed, and then became annihilated; the Comanche; Sioux… tribes ruled the land, and Catlin was there. He attended religious ceremonies where no white man had ever been admitted to – a medicine-lodge that unveiled remarkable and appalling scenes. How fortunate he was to experience and view the beauty of the American Indians, and how unfortunate to see first-hand their devastation by western settlers and government.

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