National Anthropological Archives

MS 2005-07 Red Thunder Cloud collection


Collection ID:
Unti, Oreste Vincent
Red Thunder Cloud, 1919-1996
Physical Description:
5 Pages
1 photographic print; and 1 periodical

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
Materials relating to Red Thunder Cloud collected by his friend Oreste Vincent Unti: (1) Photographic print (8x10) inscribed "Best wishes Bernie from Red Thunder Cloud." (2) Two-page letter in Spanish to Oreste Unti from Armando Diaz, East Hampton, NY, May 22, 1945. (3) Two-page letter to Oreste Unti from "Your Brother Tez" [i.e. Red Thunder Cloud], Catawba Lodge, East Hampton, NY, n.d. (4) Photocopy of obituary for Oreste Vincent Unti published in the Chestnut Hill Local (Oct 25, 2001). (5) Periodical published by Red Thunder Cloud at Catawba Lodge: "The Indian War Drum: The Voice of the Eastern Indians" Vol. 1 No 2. (Feb 1946).

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
Red Thunder Cloud was an alias of Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West (1922-1996), who posed as a Catawba and native speaker of the language. In 1938, he wrote a letter to Frank G. Speck, introducing himself as a "16 year old Catawba Indian." He continued his masquerade for the rest of his life and served as an assistant and informant to linguists and anthropologists. While his veracity was questioned by some, it was not until his death that it was confirmed that he was not Catawba, much less a Native American. For more information, please see Ives Goddard's article "The Identity of Red Thunder Cloud" at

Using the Collection

Manuscript 2005-07 Red Thunder Cloud collection, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

More Information

Local Numbers

Local Numbers
NAA MS 2005-07


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Indians of North America -- Ethnic identity Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Catawba Indians Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of North America -- Southern states Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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