the wilds

the wilds

The FIRST PEOPLE of TURTLE ISLAND by George Catlin

9m ago
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Click on the link below to read about Turtle Island. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_Island_%28North_America%29 George Catlin was a painter and writer specializing in the artistic preservation of the NATIVES of NORTH AMERICA, born on July 26, 1796, in Wilkes-Barre, a town in the center of Wyoming Valley, in Pennsylvania. He was raised during the time when the American frontier inched itself further and further west, often destroying the indigenous people of those lands. As a child he became extremely interested in the North American Natives. He may have been influenced by his Native American friend On-o-gon-way. It is likely that this relationship helped Catlin realize that the local Natives were not the animalistic savages that society wished to portray them as. Catlin's vision of capturing the dying races of North American Natives was further inspired by a delegation of Natives moving through Pennsylvania from the West. The visit left a lasting impression on him. He described them as: "A delegation of some ten or fifteen noble and dignified-looking Natives, from the wilds of the 'Far West,' arrayed and equipped in all their classic beauty, - with shield and helmet, - with tunic and manteau, - tinted and tasselled off, exactly for the painter's palette!" This experience would eventually inspire Catlin to travel all over North America, from the Great Lakes to Florida. Exploring the frontier at last, Catlin was determined to fulfill his dream. "With these views firmly fixed -- armed, equipped, and supplied, I started out in the year 1832, and penetrated the vast and pathless wilds which are familiarly denominated the great 'Far West' of the North American continent. Black and blue cloth and civilization are destined, not only to veil but to obliterate the grace and beauty of Nature, Man, in the simplicity and loftiness of his nature, unrestrained and unfettered by the disguises of art, is surely the most beautiful model for the painter, and the country from which he hails is unquestionably the best study or school of the arts in the world: such I am sure, from the models I have seen, is the wilderness of North America. And the history and customs of such a people, preserved by pictorial illustrations, are themes worthy the life-time of one man, and nothing short of the loss of my life, shall prevent me from visiting their country, and of becoming their historian." Catlin realized during his travels that, contrary to the common assumption at the time, the Native Americans were not "savages." He felt it his duty to prove otherwise. In 1836 he set up an exhibition of over 500 paintings, in an attempt to demonstrate the natural beauty that the "dying race" held. However, the exhibition was only moderately well received in the United States with mild interest. Nonetheless, CATLIN REMAINED CONVINCED THAT THE NATIVES WERE MORE CIVILIZED AT A BASIC LEVEL THAN THE WHITE MAN. He said of them, "I have roamed about from time to time during seven or eight years, visiting and associating with some three or four hundred thousand of these people, under an almost infinite variety of circumstances; and from the very many and decided voluntary acts of their hospitality and kindness, I feel bound to pronounce them, by nature, a kind and hospitable people. I have been welcomed generally in their country, and treated to the best that they could give me, without any charges made for my board; they have often escorted me through their enemies' country at some hazard to their own lives, and aided me in passing mountains and rivers with my awkward baggage; and under all of these circumstances of exposure, no Native ever betrayed me, struck me a blow, or stole from me a shilling's worth of my property that I am aware of." George Catlin loved people. He loved their faces. He loved to paint faces expressing feelings. He understood how to paint feelings. You can look at one of his paintings of a Native and see pride, honor, respect, intellige...