Category Archives: The Indian Tribes


Lappawinsoe Delaware Chie. American natives costumes, illustrations and portraits. Indian Tribes clothing of North America.

Lap-Pa-Win-Soe, A Delaware Chief


THE preceding engraving are taken from the original portraits, in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. They were presented to that body by Granville Penn, Esq., of Stoke Park, England, a worthy descendant of the illustrious founder of the state which bears his name. These portraits are highly interesting to the antiquarian, because they preserve to him the only likenesses which exist of the famed Lenni Lennapi tribe of Indians.

All that is known respecting their originals, is contained in the Report made by Mr. J. Francis Fisher and Mr. Job R. Tyson to the Historical Society, and published in a volume of the Society’s Transactions.

The portraits were painted more than a century ago, (1737,) and even the name of the limner would now be a subject of curious but uncertain speculation. If a native, his work would show the skill employed and attention bestowed at that time, in British America, upon this department of the arts. Mr. Tyson and Mr. Fisher suggest that the portraits were probably painted either by one Swede, named Cecilius, who executed a likeness of James Logan, or a later artist, named R. Feke, whose name appears on a picture of the year 1746.

The fame of Lappawinsoe, whatever it was, has not been transmitted to us. James Logan speaks of him as an honest old Indian; and his name, “he is gone away gathering corn, nuts, or any thing eatable,” according to Heckewelder’s translation, implies the character of an honest old hunter. He was a chief, and is ranked, by the last named writer, among those of the Forks of the Delaware.
The act by which Lappawinsoe is chiefly known, is signing, at Philadelphia, the celebrated Treaty of 1737, commonly called The Walking Purchase. The character and effect of this negotiation are adverted to in another article.


American natives costumes, illustrations and portraits. Indian Tribes of North America. Western Tribal warriors.



THE medicine men were formerly held in high repute among the Indians; but in some of the tribes the faith in them has lately been much shaken. Imposture, however ingenious, exercises over the human mind a precarious sway, which is constantly liable to detection; and the influence of the medicine men is based on a combination of imposture and superstition. They who practise the art are alike deceivers and deceived. To a certain extent they believe in the efficacy of their own spells; but as the fallacy of these practices becomes obvious to themselves, they are driven to ingenious contrivances to keep up the delusion, and sink into insignificance, or become artful impostors, just as they may happen to be cunning and successful, or the reverse.

There are medicine men among all the tribes. Their ordinary business is to cure diseases, and their remedies are chiefly spells, although most of them resort also, in plain cases, to their knowledge of the qualities of medicinal plants. But the latter branch of their practice is limited by the acquaintance which the Indians generally possess of simple remedies, and by their habit of using them when occasion requires. The medicine men are also dreamers, and interpreters of dreams, employing, in this part of their profession, much the same degree of intellect and cunning which are practised by the fortune-tellers who practise upon the credulity of the vulgar in more civilized communities. Sometimes they rise to a higher proficiency in their art, and assume the name of prophets, mingling in the political affairs of their tribes, and assuming rank in the councils, in virtue of their supposed favor with the gods, and prescience of events.

KEE-SHES-WA, The Sun, is a medicine man of note in the Musquakee tribe, and, so far as we can judge from appearances, is a devout believer in his science. Although in good health, and apparently a sound sleeper, he dreams very often, and very much to the purpose. He adheres firmly to all the ancient superstitions of his people, and is a stickler for the usages of his forefathers. He is especially discreet and observant of form in his smoking, and never puts the pipe into his mouth without due solemnity, nor omits any of the little proprieties which should accompany this ceremony. While he enjoys his pipe with the complacency of a true lover of the weed, no one who has witnessed the initiatory forms with which he lights it, would suspect him of smoking for mere employment. He goes through it with a seriousness which shows that he con siders it a matter of no small moment; and that, however agreeable may be the sedative effect of the tobacco, the act of inhaling the smoke is closely connected with his religious opinions. He is a sincere and honest smoker.

The reputation of Keesheswa, as a medicine man, is not so great as it was a few years ago. The more intelligent of the Sauks and Musquakees, in consequence probably of their intercourse with the whites, have become skeptical in regard to the efficacy of spells; and, except when under strong excitement, treat their medicine men with an indifference amounting almost to levity. When threatened by danger, or blinded by passion, superstition regains its sway; but as a general fact, the juggler is less esteemed than formerly.

Keesheswa is much respected as an individual. His deportment is inoffensive, and he is believed to be sincere in his own belief of the efficacy of his spells which we suppose to be true of but few of his class. At all events, it is a pleasure to see him smoke his pipe, and quite impossible to treat with levity an occupation in which he engages with a truly devout and edifying gravity of demeanor.

Gallery: “History of the Indian Tribes of North America” by Thomas McKenney & James Hall


American natives costumes, illustrations and portraits. Indian Tribes of North America.

ESH-TA-HUM-LEAH a Sioux chief

ESH-TA-HUM-LEAH or Sleepy Eyes. A Sioux chief.

WE have but little to say of this individual, whose name, when translated, signifies Sleepy eyes, and is expressive of the character of his countenance. He is one of the hereditary chiefs of the Teton tribe, of the Dacotah nation. In person, he is large, and well pro portioned, and has rather a dignified appearance. He is a goodnatured, plausible person, but has never been distinguished either in war or as a hunter.
The word Teton means boaster, and has been given to this tribe in consequence of the habit of bragging, which is said to prevail among them. They dwell in skin lodges, which are easily removed, and are constantly roving over the vast plains between the St. Peter and the Missouri. They trade on both rivers, and are very hostile to white men, whom they insult and rob, when they find them on the prairies, where such acts may be safely perpetrated. But all the tribes who live in contact with our frontier, have become so conscious of the power of the American government, as to be cautious in their depredations upon our citizens; and acts of violence are growing every day less numerous upon our borders. The Tetons are fierce, rapacious, and untameable; but are not considered braver than the other Sioux tribes.

Gallery: “History of the Indian Tribes of North America” by Thomas McKenney & James Hall

POW-A-SHEEK a Fox Chief

American natives costumes, illustrations and portraits. Indian Tribes of North America. Western Tribal warriors.

POW-A-SHEEK a Fox Chief


THE word Powasheek, in the Musquakee language, signifies “To dash the water off.” The individual who bears this name is a celebrated brave of the Musquakee or Fox nation, and is numbered among their chiefs or leading men. A few years ago he was better known to the whites than any other person of his nation, and was probably at that time the most influential man among them. The superior talents of Keokuk have, however, thrown into the shade all the leaders who once stood high in the combined Saukie and Musquakee nation, and Wapella, the Fox leader, being a chief of great address, and a friend of Keokuk, Powasheek has been little heard of, during late years, in public life. He was a daring warrior, and held a respectable standing in council, as a man of prudence and capacity. The likeness is a good one, and gives a correct idea of his character.
Powasheek is one of those men who, though highly respected, and holding a rank among the first men of their nation, are not distinguished by brilliant talents. Nothing very striking in his history has reached us.

Gallery: “History of the Indian Tribes of North America” by Thomas McKenney & James Hall

KISHKALWA a Shawnee Chief. American native 1824.

American natives costumes, illustrations and portraits. Indian Tribes of North America. Western Tribal warriors.

KlSH-KALLO-WA a Shawnee Chief


KISHKALWA a Shawnee Chief. American native 1824.

KISHKALWA is nominally and legally the head chief of the Shawnee nation, but is too far advanced in life to take any active part in its affairs. He is believed to be between eighty-six and ninety years of age, and is living with a daughter upon the Kansas river, although his band have settled in the neighborhood of the Sabine. The family of this chief is numerous and very distinguished; he is one of seven brothers, all renowned warriors, one of whom was the celebrated Black Hoof, who died in 1831, at the advanced age of from ninety-five to one hundred years.

This chief was about seventeen years of age when he engaged, for the first time, in a war-party; and on that occasion he made himself conspicuous for his bravery. The expedition was of a character which strikingly illustrates the history of savage life. The Shawnee were a warlike tribe, that roved through the whole of the territory north-west of the Ohio, and were continually engaged in hostilities, at first with the English, and subsequently with their descendants, while they maintained friendly relations with the French. The latter occupied Fort Massac, a military station, on the northern shore of the Ohio, not far above its junction with the Mississippi; and were at variance with the Chickasaws, who lost no opportunity to do them an injury. Among other stratagems which were practised by these Indians, was one that was frequently adopted by all the tribes, and in which the savages were very successful. A party of warriors, disguised in the skins of deer, or of bears, would appear creeping upon the shore of the river opposite the fort. The width of the stream was so great as to render it quite possible to practise the deception with good effect, even if the imitation of the animals had been less perfect than it really was.
But the Indians, accustomed to notice the habits of the brute creation, and versed in all the strategy of sylvan sport, and border war, played’ their parts with admirable fidelity to nature. Sometimes the French saw a number of bears issuing from the forest which clothed the bank, and walking sluggishly over the narrow margin of sand that fringed the river; and sometimes a herd of deer was seen, half disclosed among the bushes, as if reclining in the shade, and gazing upon the placid stream. The ardent Frenchmen, unsuspicious of danger, would cross the river hastily in pursuit of the supposed game, and fall into an ambuscade prepared by the Chickasaws. The Shawnee heard of several massacres which occurred in this manner, and determined to avenge their friends.

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