National Anthropological Archives

Guide to MS 4656 Book of anonymous Kiowa drawings, circa 1875-1877

Collection ID:
circa 1875-1877
Physical Description:
1 Volume
11.5 x 8.75 inches

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of a book of fourteen (14) drawings on eight (8) leaves of unruled paper in a commercial drawing book. The book was rebound by the Bureau of American Ethnology and the original covers are no longer visible. The drawings depict hunting, travelling, and camp scenes. The inside front cover is inscribed "Drawn by Buffalo Meat." The inside back cover is inscribed "Soaring Eegle [sic]." Buffalo Meat and Soaring Eagle were among the Cheyenne men imprisoned at Fort Marion. Although both men were artists, the drawings in this book are Kiowa, not Cheyenne.
Although the drawings were originally cataloged as Cheyenne by Buffalo Meat, neither Candace Greene nor Karen Daniels Petersen agree with this attribution. They note that the drawings can be identified as Kiowa based on elements of clothing, as well as shield and tipi designs. Furthermore, Greene compared the drawings with other works by Buffalo Meat and determined that they do not correspond with the artist's style. Both Greene and Petersen note that the drawings are the work of at least two artists. The inside of the front cover is inscribed, "Drawn by Buffalo Meat, Cheyenne." Petersen notes that the handwriting matches an inscription written inside the cover of MS 39-b, a drawing book that is known to have been collected at Fort Marion by George Fox, who inscribed the cover and captioned the drawings. (Candace Greene and Mike Jordan compared the inscriptions in MS 4656 and MS 39-b and agree that the handwriting is the same.) George Fox worked as an interpreter at Fort Marion until March 26, 1877. Consequently, the book dates between May 21, 1875, the date the prisoners arrived at Fort Marion, and March 26, 1877, the date George Fox departed.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Fort Marion, also known as Castillo de San Marco, is a stone fortress in St. Augustine, Florida. Between 1875 and 1878, seventy-two prisoners from the southern plains were incarcerated in the fort. Captain Richard Pratt supervised the prisoners during their incarceration at Fort Marion. The prisoners consisted of 27 Kiowas, 33 Cheyennes, 9 Comanches, 2 Arapahos, and a single Caddo. With the exception of one Cheyenne woman, all the prisoners were men. They had been accused of participating in the recent Red River War, earlier hostilities, or both. With the exception of the wife and daughter of one of the Comanche men, the prisoners families were not allowed to accompany them to Fort Marion.

Custodial History
The drawings were created at Fort Marion sometime between May 21, 1875 and March 31, 1877. The book was obtained by Dr. Guy Fairfax Whiting, whose daughter Julia Whiting of Middleburg, Virginia, donated it to the Bureau of American Ethnology in February 1963. The donation was made through Dr. Richard Howland, Department of Civil History, Smithsonian Institution. Although Mrs. Whiting maintained that her father had collected the drawings on a buffalo hunting trip in the western United States, this story is not consistent with the book's Fort Marion origin.

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MS 4656 Book of anonymous Kiowa drawings, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

More Information
Local Numbers
Local Numbers
NAA MS 4656

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Works of art Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ledger drawings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kiowa Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
North America Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746