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The scene depicted here represents the stark difference in the Indian policy that developed on adjoining sides of the "Medicine Line." It captures wonderfully the way that Americans have always dealt with any Red Men they encountered, especially Indian chiefs...
The event happened on Canadian soil; Tecumseh, born on the US frontier, was a landed immigrant; he died, and was buried, on Canadian soil. (He and his people came from the mid-western US, and had fled to Canada for safety to escape the genocidal attacks of the US army.)
But the heroics are American, the cheering you hear is American. The print was produced by an American in a way that would win mass appeal for American audiences. In 1846, when this very print was painted, white Americans were just beginning their dramatic push into the west beyond the Mississippi, and fighting and killing any Indians who stood in their way as this picture clearly communicates.
|The Death of Tecumseh, Battle of the Thames, Oct 18, 1013 - Nathaniel Currier, 1846|
|Orig. hand painted lithograph - Image Size - 23 x 32 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
The George Harlan Estate Coll
Over the next 50 years many Indians, led by chiefs like Little Crow (Santee Sioux), White Cap (Dakota Sioux), Sitting Bull (Dakota Sioux), and Joseph (Nez Percé), fled the genocide south of the border, and made for the Canadian side and safety under the British rule of law to escape the notorious Texas-originated six-gun justice.
As Canadians and Americans pushed into their respective "Wild Wests" the path of development was decidedly different.
The American Army and State Militias ruthlessly hunted down and killed countless Indians of all tribes. On the Canadian side there was no army at all, to track Canadian Indians, just rule by Hudson's Bay Company fur trade managers.
The history of the American West is marked by countless bloody battles (a stretch) or massacres (more accurate) to subdue the Indians.
In western Canada only one such incident is recorded, the Cyprus Hills Massacre, involving the extermination of some 30 members of a band of Assiniboines in south eastern Alberta, in 1873, and it was carried out by a group of American wolf hunters and whiskey traders who had come over the border from Fort Benton in Montana.
Their reason for the massacre? These Indians were lowdown thieves... which was no more accurate than George Bush's reason for invading Iraq - bogus WMD, false Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda - but hey, good enough to justify Americans killing non-white, non-Christian men, women, and children, on the doorsteps of their homes.
Some things never change...
It was exactly "wolfers" like this that perpetrated the Massacre at Cyprus Hills.
At the end of the Minnesota rising of 1862, 38 Indians who were found guilty of murder were hanged together in Mankato, Minnesota.
Since there wouldn't be enough scalps to go around someone came up with the idea of making a wonderful souvenir brewing tinware plate for serving beer at bars, encouraging, no doubt, many a toast to "38 more good Indians."
We have looked for tinware celebrating the shooting execution of Gary Gilmore, or of Timothy McVeigh being injected on a gurney, but have been unsuccessful so far... Could it be that only killing Indians was worth such celebratory memorabilia in America?
In 1885, during the Métis Riel uprising/resistance in the Canadian West, the army was called out to quell civil disobedience that had risen beyond the individual level, till it pitted two communities - Métis people and some Indians, against the Government of Canada.
In the opening days of the rising some Indians killed nine white men (traders, priests, administrators; women were spared) in a remote town. Those involved were arrested, treated as criminals, and sentenced to death. 8 were hanged together for murder inside old Fort Battleford.
Sadly no commemorative tinware was produced to celebrate "8 more good Indians."
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005
It shows clearly the technique of the hand-painting that was used for the first Currier prints.
They still basically count a lot on the black ink printing, pressed off the wet litho stone engraving, to give you most of the image: the sharp lines, the gradations of grey for shadows and depth perception.
Colour is added very sparingly, just a touch, basically, to give you the feeling that you are looking at a colour image, when you're actually not.
Currier guessed that a touch of blue on necklace, belt, fringe and tunic, and a similar dash of yellow on headband, necklace and belt, would suffice for a "colour image."
And the effect worked... People automatically "imagined" that there was more colour there than there actually was...
Would more colour have sold more copies? At first, it's doubtful. But it would have cost a lot more in production time. Later on, Currier and Ives prints had more colour; the public demanded it as cheaper methods of colour reproduction competed.
This touch-up painting could be done quickly, by just about anyone, so an assembly line worked effectively and economically to produce these "original, hand-painted lithographs."
This little touch elevated Currier & Ives prints, from the level of broadsheets, and newspapers, which were merely cranked off presses, to "original art."
Original art for the masses.
It's really the "high end" forerunner of the Robert Bateman prints factory, where he is a one man assembly line, adding merely his signature to xerographic copies he routinely runs off presses by the thousands.
It passes for original art for the middle classes...
But more discerning collectors reply, why buy one when you can see them at your fiend's houses any time you want to? Now where can you see a glorious Mackenney and Hall hand-painted lithograph from 1838?
Above, multiculturalism USA style - anyone who will not become totally American in culture, and outlook, had better look to his gun... Multiculturalism and multilingualism - especially as espoused by CNN intellectuals nightly, regarding Hispanics, the largest American minority - is widely reviled in the USA from the media on down. As a result, the US Government's war against the Muslims, for years, has been severely hamstrung by a Foreign Affairs Department that is notorious for having a woefully chronic lack of Arabists and Arab-speakers who can read the books, papers, or engage in dialogue with the peoples they are warring against... But then Americans do have a point; what is the possible use of being able to talk to people you are about to shoot, bomb, or pulverize? Six-gun justice, since time immemorial, has been the American style of dialogue.. especially with inferior non-American types... at home and abroad....
And then brag about it... as this Currier Print still does, and they still do, a century and a half later...
Another way Canadians are different from Americans...
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure|
Only one period likeness of Tecumseh purportedly exists; the rest are mostly images made by painters with imaginations, years after he died.
But there seems to be a strong likeness to his brother in this image.
Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, tried to organize an Indian Confederacy to oppose the white settlers that were flooding in and stealing Indian lands west of the Ohio in the early 1800s.
But, at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, his Shawnee people were defeated, many fleeing to British Canada, where they joined the British side to fight off an American invasion when the War of 1812-1814 broke out between the US and Britain (Canada).
Years later, General William Henry Harrison, who commanded the US forces at the battle, used the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" to ride a frenzied popular anti-Indian tide to victory in the US Presidential elections in 1840. By then the Indians had been largely cleared out of Ohio and Indiana. But now the racist wars were rising to a fever pitch against the Indians west of the Mississippi River.
The next fifty years would see untold thousands of Indians there, massacred, transported, or beaten into submission, and their lands expropriated for the superior white master race.
And it had everything to do with the doctrines of whites as racially superior and the non-white Indians as racially and culturally inferior. Every person from Presidents like Jackson and Harrison on down to the dirt poor farmers believed it; many actually proposed that extermination was not a bad idea for members of such an inferior civilization.
After the Battle of Tippecanoe, monument left, Harrison's soldiers burned down the Prophet's town, and dug up the Indian graveyard and scattered the bodies all over, treating them with no more ceremony than as if they were mere road kill...
Similarly, two centuries later, George Bush rode a tidal wave of racist frenzy - this time against Muslims; no other evidence required - to another term in the White House, and - in spite of the opposition of the vast majority of the civilized world - to launch a race war against the Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, based on totally bogus evidence he and his racist cronies had cooked up to do so.
|Tenskwautawaw - The Prophet - Charles Bird King (1816-1835)|
|Orig. litho - Size - 36 X 51 cm
Found - Franklin, TN
Pub - McKenney & Hall, Copyright 1833
|Tecumseh's brother, painted from life, since he survived the wars and lived long enough to be painted.
This is one of the fabulous hand-painted lithographs issued, in large folio size, by McKenney & Hall in 1837-1842, and which are easily the most stunning American Indian bust portraits ever published.