MCKENNEY, Thomas L. (1785-1859) and James HALL (1793-1868)
Tah-Chee, a Cherokee Chief
Philadelphia: F. W. Greenough, 1836. Hand-coloured lithograph. Very good condition. Image size (including text): 14 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches. Sheet size: 21 x 15 inches.
A 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.
Tah-Chee, (d. 1848) also known as "Dutch," and "Captain William Dutch" was a revered Cherokee chief and talented hunter, who acquired a significant amount of land for his tribe along the Canadian River after fighting with the Osage and Comanche.
He was from an early age a hunter and seems to have spent a great deal of time completely on his own, or, alone with his horse and three dogs. During these travels, he teamed up with members of other tribes, including the Osage (bitter Cherokee enemies) even learning their language.
Widely respected by the chiefs of many Indian nations, he was one of several Indian representatives at the 1835 Camp Homes Treaty, which established peace between the United States and various tribes including the Comanche, Wichita, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Osage. Tah-Chee later moved his tribe to east Texas, where he remained until the 1840s when he was defeated by the Republic of Texas army and forced to relocate to the Indian Territory. He retired to a ranch on the Columbia River where he died in 1848.
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, Keokuk, and Black Hawk. 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 a 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, Menominee, 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 making a record of a rapidly disappearing culture.
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.