1998.254.13.4
Reading of the Six Nations belts

Photographer: Foster studio (Clinton, Ontario, Canada); taken on behalf of Horatio Hale
Date of Photo: 14 September 1871
Continent: North America
Geographical Area: North America
Country: Canada
Region/Place: Ontario; Brantford Reservation
Cultural Group: NE Woodlands Iroquois Onondaga; NE Woodlands Iroquois Seneca; NE Woodlands Iroquois Mohawk
Named Person(s): From left to right: Joseph Snow (Onondaga): George Henry Martin Johnson (Mohawk): John Buck (Onondaga); John Smoke Johnson (Mohawk); Isaac Hill (Onondaga); Seneca Johnson (Seneca)
Format: Print Black & White
Size: 106 x 148 mm
Acquisition: Edward Burnett Tylor - Donated 1917 ?

Description

Group portrait of six chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, gathered on the formal occasion of the reading of the 'Six Nations Reserve wampum belts'.

Publications history

Contemporary Publication - This print has been published in Horatio Hale, 'Four Huron Wampum Records: A Study of the Aboriginal American History and Mnemonic Symbols', Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 26 (1897), between pages 220 and 221, plate 14. [PG 06/10/2014]

Research publication - This print has been published in Elizabeth Edwards and Lynne Williamson, World On A Glass Plate: Early Anthropological Photographs from the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford (Oxford, 1981), p.3: 'CANADA, ONTARIO. 14th September 1871/ Photographer: Foster. Donor: E. B. Tylor/ Six of the fifty chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, "People of the Longhouse". This confederacy comprises the following tribes: the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora. They inhabited the strategically important trading region along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Because most of the tribes sided with the British during the American Revolution, they were moved from New York State to land along the Grand River in Ontario./ The governing council of the Confederacy, founded by Hiawatha and Deganawidah, is composed of chiefs selected by senior women of the tribal clans. The photograph shows from left to right: Hahriron, "He who scatters", Onondaga fire-keeper; George Johnson, "Double life", Mohawk government interpreter; Skanawidah, "Beyond the swamp", Onondaga wampum-keeper; John Smoke Johnson, "Disappearing mist", Mohawk council speaker; Isaac Hill, "the voice suspended", Onondaga fire-keeper; Seneca Johnson, "Entangled hair", of the Snipe Clan of Seneca./ They hold the tribal wampum records, made from purple and white shell beads strung in patterns whose symbols illustrate the treaties and agreements between tribes and with Whites. The gift of a wampum string confirms an agreement and holds immense value for the Indians.' [PG 06/10/2014]

Research publication - This image has been published in Elisabeth Tooker, 'A Note on the Return of Eleven Wampum Belts to the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy on Grand River, Canada', Ethnohistory, 45/2 (1998), p.224, figure 2: 'Chiefs explaining the Six Nations belts. Photograph taken in Brantford, Ontario, 14 September 1871.' [PG 24/03/2010]

Research publication - This print has been reproduced in Carrie Feldman, 'Claim Assessment: Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on Burial Rules and Regulations for NMAI 008386.000 "Wampum Belt. [League Belt of the Iroquois Property of Chief Johnson, Of Grand Rivers, Ontario]"', National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Repatriation Department (October 2011) [available online at http://vitacollections.ca/sixnationsarchive/2694335/page/3?q=carrie%20feldman&docid=OOI.2694335], p.7, figure 3b: 'Reading of the wampum belts, Chiefswood, September 14, 1871. John "Smoke" Johnson (center) holding NMAI 008386.000. Photo by Horatio Hale. Photograph courtesy of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University'. [PG 06/10/2014]

Research Notes

See Carrie Feldman, 'Claim Assessment: Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on Burial Rules and Regulations for NMAI 008386.000 "Wampum Belt. [League Belt of the Iroquois Property of Chief Johnson, Of Grand Rivers, Ontario]"', National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Repatriation Department (October 2011) [available online at http://vitacollections.ca/sixnationsarchive/2694335/page/3?q=carrie%20feldman&docid=OOI.2694335], p.7, figure 3a, for a related print, taken on the same occasion as PRM 1998.254.13.4. [PG 06/10/2014]

Named Person - Other Native names and names of men depicted.
Joseph Snow (Chan-ly-e-ya) "Drifted Snow" Onondaga Chief
George H. M. Johnson (Je-yung-heh-kwang) "Double Life" Mohawk Chief and official interpreter
John Smoke Johnson (Chief Teyonnhehkewea or Sac-a-yung-Kwar-to) "Disappearing Knot" Mohawk Chief
John Buck (Skan-a-wa-ti) "Beyond the Swamp " Keeper of the Wampum, Onondaga Chief
Isaac Hill (Te-yem-tho-hi-sa) "Two Doors Closed" Onondaga Chief
John Seneca Johnson (Ka-nung-he-ri-taws) "Entangled Hair Given" Seneca Chief