MCKENNEY, Thomas L. (1785-1859) and James HALL (1793-1868)
Naw-Kaw. A Winnebago Chief
Philadelphia: E.C. Biddle, 1837. Hand-coloured lithograph by Lehman and Duval after Charles Bird King's copy of James Otto Lewis' portrait, made at Butte des Morts in 1827. Sheet size: 21 1/2 x 15 1/4 inches.
An early impression and fine image from McKenney and Hall's 'Indian Tribes of North America': `One of the most important [works] ever published on the American Indians' (Field),` a landmark in American culture' (Horan) and an invaluable contemporary record of a vanished way of life.
Born in Wisconsin, Naw-Kaw (c. 1736-1833) or Walking Turtle, was a venerable Winnebago chief who fought for the British in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. A respected and diplomatic peacemaker, he signed several treaties with the settlers after the war, as they increasingly encroached upon Winnebago lands. In 1827, he attended the Butte des Morts council in Michigan, which resulted in a treaty establishing territorial boundaries between the warring Winnebago, Chippewa, and Menomonie nations. He is depicted with three Presidential Peace Medals, each from a different President.
At McKenney's invitation, Naw-Kaw, accompanied by the Winnebago agent Major Thomas Forsyth and John Jacob Astor's employee John H. Kinzie, led a delegation of twenty Winnebago chiefs to Washington in 1828. While in the capital, McKenney took the delegation to his Indian portrait gallery and had Charles Bird King paint their portraits. In order to further placate the uneasy delegation, Forsyth and Kinzie then took them on a tour of the eastern cities, a trip on which Naw-Kaw earned a reputation as a rambunctious hotel guest. The issue was, fundamentally, lead mining by whites in Winnebago territory, what became Wisconsin. At the meeting in Washington, John Quincy Adams agreed to free three captive Winnebago warriors (among whom was Red Bird, who had led an attack on the illegal immigrant miners in 1827. He died in prison of dysentery before the delegation returned). Adams asked NawKaw and company in return to consider releasing the lead mining region. NawKaw agreed to consider it, and eventually another treaty was signed.
McKenney and Hall's 'Indian Tribes of North America' has long been renowned for its faithful portraits of Native Americans. The portraits are largely based on paintings by the artist Charles Bird King, who was employed by the War Department to paint the Indian delegates visiting Washington D.C., forming the basis of the War Department's Indian Gallery. Most of King's original paintings were subsequently destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian, and their appearance in McKenney and Hall's magnificent work is thus our only record of the likenesses of many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the nineteenth century. Numbered among King's sitters were Sequoyah, Red Jacket, Major Ridge, Cornplanter, and Osceola. After six years as Superintendent of Indian Trade, Thomas McKenney had become concerned for the survival of the Western tribes. He had observed unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the Native Americans for profit, and his vocal warnings about their future prompted his appointment by President Monroe to the Office of Indian Affairs. As first director, McKenney was to improve the administration of Indian programs in various government offices. His first trip was during the summer of 1826 to the Lake Superior area for a treaty with the Chippewa, opening mineral rights on their land. In 1827, he journeyed west again for a treaty with the Chippewa, Menomine, and Winebago in the present state of Michigan. His journeys provided an unparalleled opportunity to become acquainted with Native American tribes. When President Jackson dismissed him from his government post in 1830, McKenney was able to turn more of his attention to his publishing project. Within a few years, he was joined by James Hall, a lawyer who had written extensively about the west. McKenney and Hall saw their work as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of a rapidly disappearing culture. (Gilreath).
Cf. BAL 6934; cf. Bennett p.79; cf. Field 992; cf. Howes M129; cf. Lipperhiede Mc4; cf. Reese, Stamped With A National Character p. 24; Sabin 43410a.