“Sha-ha-ka. A Mandan Chief.” From McKenney & Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America. Philadelphia: Rice & Hart, 1854. Octavo: image ca. 10 1/2 x 6 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition.
Beginning in the early nineteenth century, Thomas McKenney, superintendent of Indian Affairs, gathered a remarkable collection of life-based portraits of notable Native Americans. Done both when the Indians visited Washington and in the field, this important collection was mostly destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian in 1865. Luckily, McKenney had made copies of many of the portraits, which he had produced into a portfolio of 121 folio prints based on the paintings. The popularity of the work led to an octavo edition first issued in 1842. The striking series of prints documents an important part of American history and so are as historical as they are decorative.