North American Indians
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Although he is best known for his paintings of Native Americans, George Catlin (1796 1872) also wrote books about his experiences among the indigenous peoples of the United States. During the 1830s he travelled widely in the western frontier regions with the aim of documenting the vanishing cultures of the Indians, and managed to meet 48 groups. This was a critical time for Native Americans, as US government policies were forcing many tribes off their ancestral land and onto reservations west of the Mississippi River. Catlin's two-volume work, published in 1841, is a compilation of his letters and field notes, and includes over 300 line drawings of people, artefacts and animals. He expresses disgust at the Europeans' treatment of the 'honest and honourable' Indians, who have 'fallen victims to whiskey, the small-pox and the bayonet'. Volume 1 focuses on the Crow, Blackfeet and Mandan peoples in the Great Plains.
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