Letters and notes on the manners, customs, and conditions of the North American Indians; written during eight years' travel (1832-1839) amongst the wildest tribes of Indians in North America

by George Catlin

Paper Book, 1973



Call number

E77 .C38 1973


New York, Dover Publications [1973]


From 1831 to 1837, George Catlin traveled extensively among the native peoples of North America--from the Muskogee and Miccosukee Creeks of the Southeast to the Lakota, Mandan, and Pawnee of the West, and from the Winnebagos and Menominees of the North to the Comanches of eastern Texas. Studying their habits, customs, and modes of life, he made copious notes and numerous sketches of ceremonies, buffalo hunts, symbols, and totems. Catlin's unprecedented fieldwork culminated in more than five hundred oil paintings and his now-legendary journals, which, as Peter Matthiessen writes in his introduction, "taken together... constitute the first, last, and only 'complete' record of the Plains Indians ever made at the height of their splendid culture, so soon destroyed by traders' liquor and disease, rapine and bayonets." A one-volume edition of Catlin's journals Illustrated with more than fifty reproductions of Catlin's incomparable paintings… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Stevil2001
George Catlin spent several years journeying across the American West, chronicling the rapidly vanishing Native American tribes. This book is replete with not only his anthropological notes, but also reproductions of paintings he made, showing the visual splendor of these peoples. Of course, what he fails to acknowledge directly is that the Native Americans weren't just magically vanishing into thin air: they were vanishing thanks to the American imperial project of which Catlin was an integral part. Catlin rides out with the U.S. military to help put down some Native American groups on more than one occasion in here. There's a curious double project here on Catlin's part: both fascinated by the Native Americans, yet determined to see his people win out.

As for the book itself, it's hard reading if you yourself aren't interested in the ethnography of 19th-century Native Americans. Catlin visits a lot of different tribes, and his commentary soon becomes repetitive, often digressive and dull. He tries to liven things up on occasion, but he does this by including far more exclamation marks than should ever appear within a single sentence.
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Original publication date


Physical description

24 cm


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