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Book of anonymous Kiowa drawings, ca. 1875-1877

ca 1875-1877
Ledger drawings
Collection descriptions
Physical Description
1 volume of 14 drawings (8 leaves) : graphite, colored pencil, and crayon ; 21 x 29 cm
Local number
NAA MS 4656
Kiowa Indians
Indians of North America Great Plains
On microfilm negative reel 32.
Fort Marion, also known as Castillo de San Marco, is a stone fortress in St. Augustine, Florida. Between 1875 and 1878, seventy-two prisoners from the southern plains were incarcerated in the fort. Captain Richard Pratt supervised the prisoners during their incarceration at Fort Marion. The prisoners consisted of 27 Kiowas, 33 Cheyennes, 9 Comanches, 2 Arapahos, and a single Caddo. With the exception of one Cheyenne woman, all the prisoners were men. They had been accused of participating in the recent Red River War, earlier hostilities, or both. With the exception of the wife and daughter of one of the Comanche men, the prisoners families were not allowed to accompany them to Fort Marion. For further information on Fort Marion see Karen Daniels Petersen, Plains Indian Art from Fort Marion, University of Oklahoma Press, 1971 and Richard Pratt, Battlefield and Classroom, ed. by R. M. Utley, Yale University Press, 1964.
The drawings were created at Fort Marion sometime between May 21, 1875 and March 31, 1877. The book was obtained by Dr. Guy Fairfax Whiting, whose daughter Julia Whiting of Middleburg, Virginia, donated it to the Bureau of American Ethnology in February 1963. The donation was made through Dr. Richard Howland, Department of Civil History, Smithsonian Institution. Although Mrs. Whiting maintained that her father had collected the drawings on a buffalo hunting trip in the western United States, this story is not consistent with the book's Fort Marion origin.
Although the drawings were originally cataloged as Cheyenne by Buffalo Meat, neither Candace Greene nor Karen Daniels Petersen agree with this attribution. They note that the drawings can be identified as Kiowa based on elements of clothing, as well as shield and tipi designs. Furthermore, Greene compared the drawings with other works by Buffalo Meat and determined that they do not correspond with the artist's style. Both Greene and Petersen note that the drawings are the work of at least two artists. The inside of the front cover is inscribed, "Drawn by Buffalo Meat, Cheyenne." Petersen notes that the handwriting matches an inscription written inside the cover of MS 39-b, a drawing book that is known to have been collected at Fort Marion by George Fox, who inscribed the cover and captioned the drawings. (Candace Greene and Mike Jordan compared the inscriptions in MS 4656 and MS 39-b and agree that the handwriting is the same.) George Fox worked as an interpreter at Fort Marion until March 26, 1877. Consequently, the book dates between May 21, 1875, the date the prisoners arrived at Fort Marion, and March 26, 1877, the date George Fox departed.
Book of 14 drawings on 8 leaves of unruled paper in a commercial drawing book. The book was rebound by the Bureau of American Ethnology and the original covers are no longer visible. Drawings depict hunting, travelling, and camp scenes. The inside front cover is inscribed "Drawn by Buffalo Meat". The inside back cover is inscribed "Soaring Eegle [sic]". Buffalo Meat and Soaring Eagle were among the Cheyenne men imprisoned at Fort Marion. Although both men were artists, the drawings in this book are Kiowa, not Cheyenne, based on examination of content.
Cite as
Manuscript 4656, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland
Data Source
National Anthropological Archives
See more items in
Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier)
Book of anonymous Kiowa drawings ca. 1875-1877