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Monday, November 7, 2011

Turkeys, Fort Marion, and Making Medicine

Images of turkeys can be found in artwork at the National Anthropological ArchivesOne type of art in the NAA's collection containing turkeys are drawings that were created by American Indian prisoners at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, such as this graphite and colored pencil drawing depicting a turkey hunt by an anonymous Cheyenne artist. 

The above illustration was part of a book of drawings transferred to the U.S. National Museum (Smithsonian) in 1877 by the U.S. War Department that had collected it in 1875 from an unidentified Cheyenne prisoner at Fort Marion. This was the original War Department label for the book.

Click here to see the complete set of drawings contained in the 1875 anonymous Cheyenne drawing book (MS 39A) in the National Anthropological Archives.

In 1875, following the Southern Plains Indian war, 72 Native Americans, primarily Kiowas, Cheyennes and Araphoes, were captured by the U.S. Army and imprisoned and held hostage to ensure the peaceful conduct of their tribes. 

Stereograph of "Indians at Fort Marion"
Photo Lot 90-1, number 336, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, a Civil War veteran, supervised the prisoners and attempted to organize educational activities for the men in an effort to foster assimilation. Pratt later went on to found the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the first off-reservation boarding school in the United States.

"Captain Pratt and Indian boys posed in front of building, Fort Marion, Florida,  1878"
Negative 54546, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
In addition to teaching the Indian prisoners English, Christian religion, and military drills, the prisoners were provided with art supplies to make art depicting their experiences. Pratt encouraged prisoners to make art that they could sell as souvenirs to tourists who came to St. Augustine. 

Stereograph of Indian prisoners at Fort Marion posing with visitors
Photo Lot 90-1, number 334, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
One of the prisoner artists at Fort Marion was Making Medicine (later known as David Pendleton Oakerhater), a warrior and leader amongst the Cheyenne Tribe of Oklahoma. 

Making Medicine or David Pendleton Oakerhater, May 1881
Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University Library
In 1923 the Bureau of American Ethnology, whose collection later became part of the National Anthropological Archives, received a donation of one of Making Medicine's Fort Marion sketchbooks (MS 39B), seen here. 

The donor's brother had been given the sketchbook by his cousin, George Fox, who worked as an interpreter at Fort Marion between1875 to 1878. This is the donor's description of how she acquired the drawing book.

Making Medicine's sketchbook depicts his experiences as a prisoner at Fort Marion, including participating in drills with fellow prisoners, being photographed and giving archery lessons to ladies.

Making Medicine also created scenes of life before prison, including village life and hunting scenes, which of course included turkeys.

To see the rest of Making Medicine's drawings contained in the sketch book (MS 39B) at the National Anthropological Archives click here

Whitney Hopkins, Reference Intern
National Anthropological Archives

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