History Archive > The Aboriginal Port Folio (1836)

The Aboriginal Port Folio or a collection of portraits of the most celebrated Chiefs of the North American Indians


Date: 1836



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Lewis, James Otto. The Aboriginal Port Folio. Philadelphia: Published by J.O. Lewis. 1836.


Lewis, James Otto (1836) The Aboriginal Port Folio. Philadelphia: Published by J.O. Lewis.


Lewis, James Otto, The Aboriginal Port Folio. Philadelphia: Published by J.O. Lewis. 1836.


James O. Lewis was born in Philadelphia in 1799, moved west as a teenager, and had become an engraver and painter by the time he was living in St. Louis in 1820. In 1823 he moved to Detroit, and painted the first of his Indian portraits at the request of Gov. Lewis Cass of Michigan. He accompanied Cass on four Indian treaty expeditions in the Great Lakes region in 1825-27.

Lewis, under commission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, attended Native American treaty ceremonies between 1825 and 1828 and drew pictures of the tribal chiefs attending those ceremonies. Lewis also made a journey to Fond du Lac in the summer of 1846 and made drawings there. Virtually all of the originals of the images published here were executed by Lewis in this period. Subsequently, many of the Lewis portraits were copied by Charles Bird King, and some appeared in the King versions in the McKenney and Hall portfolio. All of the Lewis originals were destroyed in the Smithsonian fire of 1865.

One of the rarest 19th-century American color-plate books and the first major American color-plate book on American Indians. Scarcer than McKenney and Hall's 'History of the Indian Tribes', Prince Maximilian's 'Reise in das Innere von Nord-America' or Catlin's 'North American Indian Portfolio', Lewis' work records the dress of the Potawatomi, Winnebago, Shawnee, Sioux, Miami, Fox, Iowa and other tribes at treaties of Prairie du Chien, Fort Wayne, Fond du Lac and Green Bay.

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The majority of drawings were from following treaty ceremonies: [1] The First Treaty of Prairie du Chien, signed in August 1825 in Prairie du Chien, [Wisconsin]; [2] Treaty with the Potawatomi, signed October 16, 1826 in Mississinewa, Indiana (see Treaty of Mississinewa); [3] Treaty with the Miami, signed October 23, 1826 in Fort Wayne, Indiana [4] Treaty with the Chippewa, etc., signed 1827 in Butte des Morts, Wisconsin.

In addition to drawings of tribal chiefs, scenes of the Prairie du Chien and Butte des Morts treaty grounds were drawn, as well as a drawing of a Chippewa pipe dance and tomahawk dance.

The earliest painting included is dated 1823, and the latest 1833. None of the original paintings survive. Most paintings were sketched on location and finished in Detroit between 1827 and 1833. Lithography was done by Lehman and Duval in Philadelphia; color was washed in by hand. Some portraits are signed J. Barincou; this is the likely lithographer.

The Aboriginal Port Folio was published in Philadelphia by lithographers George Lehman and Peter S. Duval. It was issued in ten parts, with each part containing eight plates. Given the size of the undertaking the first nine parts were issued remarkably quickly, and appeared monthly between May 1835 and January 1836. The reason for this haste is probably that Lewis was aware that the imminent appearance of the first part of McKenney and Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America would adversely affect his subscriber-numbers.

The evidence of the surviving copies suggests that his fears were well-founded as there are a number of sets made up from eight parts (with 64 plates), but very few with nine parts (72 plates) and ten-part sets with the full complement of a frontispiece/title-leaf and eighty plates are virtually never found: only the Siebert copy is listed as having sold at auction in the past twenty-five years, and there are only about a half dozen or so other recorded sets (the Siebert set, and one other, are the only two examples to include the title page).

72 hand-colored lithographic plates.

Folio. (17 5/8 x 11 1/4 inches)


McDermott, John F. (Spring 1952). Minnesota History. 33 (1): 20-22.; Bennett, p.68; Eberstadt 131:418; Field 936; Howes l315; Sabin 40812; Reese Stamped with a National Character 23; Reese James Otto Lewis and his Aboriginal Portfolio, New Haven: 2008.

List of Images

1. Front Cover

2. Original Blue Wrapper

3. Title Page

4. Advertisement to the First Number

5. Advertisement to the Second Number

6. Advertisement to the Third Number

7. Waa-na-taa or the Foremost in Battle, Chief of the Sioux tribe

8. Wadt-he-doo-kaana, Chief of the Winnnebagoes

9. Kee-o-kuck or the Watching Fox, the present Chief of the Sank tribe and Successor to Black Hawk

10. Waa-top-e-not or the Eagle's Bed, a Fox Chief

11. Billy Shane, a Shawnee Chief, who fought for the Americans and was wounded at the Battle of the Thames in Upper Canada

12. Men-dow-min or the Corn, a Chippewa dwarf

13. Pen-now-we-ta, a Miami Chief

14. Nabu-naa-ke-shick or the One Side of the Sky, a Chippewa Chief

15. View of the Great Treaty held at Prairie du Chien, September 1825, at which upward's of 5000 Indian Warriors of the Chippeways, Sioux, Sacs & Foxes, Winnebagoes, Pottowattomied, Menomonies, Ioways & Ottowas tribes were present. Gov. Lewis Cass of Michigan and W-m Clark of Missouri, Commissioners on the part of the United States.

16. Kaa-nun-der-waaguinse-zoo or the Berry Picker, a famous Chippewa Chief

17. Waa-kaun-see-kaa, or the Rattle-Snake, a Winnebago Chief

18. O'-check-ka or Four Legs, Head Chief of the Winnebagoes on Winnebago Lake Michigan

19. Pach-e-po, a Pottowattomie Chief. This young Chief is the son of Me-o-ne-me, a Chief who served with Gen. Harrison during the late war and was killed at the River Thames

20. Cut-taa-tas-tia, a celebrated Chief of the Fox tribe

21. Na-ma-nis Cut, a Pottowattamie Chief

22. Francis Godfroy. A celebrated chief among the Miamis, half French & half Miami

23. Com-no-sa-qua, a Pottowattomie Chief

24. The Pipe dance and the Tomahawk dance of the Chippeway tribe

25. Mac-cut-i-mish-e-ca-cu-cac or Black Hawk, a celebrated Sac Chief

26. The Son, a Miami Chief

27. Pa-she-nine or the Good Marksman, a Chippeway Chief

28. A view of the Butte des Morts Treaty ground with the arrival of the Commissioners Gov. Lewis Cass and Col. McKenney in 1827

29. Abraham Quary, the last Indian of the Nantucket tribe age 64

30. Chippeway squaws

31. Interior of Sioux lodge

32. Kit-chee-waa-be Shas, the Great Martin

33. A Chippeway squaw and child

34. A Sioux Chief

35. Buffaloe hunt on the River Platte

36. A Chippeway Chief

37. Ta-ma-kake-toke or the Woman that Spoke First, a Chippeway squaw (mourning)

38. Ma-ga-zee, a Pottawatomie Chief

39. Ash-e-taa-na-quet, a celebrated Chippeway Chief

40. At-te-conse or the Young Rein Deer, a Chippeway Chief

41. Brewett, a celebrated Miami Chief

42. Caa-taa-ke Mung-ga or the Speckled Loon, a Miami Chief

43. Caw-taa-waa-be-ta or the Snagled Tooth, a Chippewa Chief

44. A celebrated Ottawa Chief

45. Cha-co-to, a Pottawatomie Chief

46. Chat-o-nis-see, Pottowattomie Chief

47. Jack-o-pa or the Six, a Chippeway Chief

48. Kee-me-one or Rain, a Chippeway Chief

49. Kee-o-tuck-kee, a Pottowattomie Chief

50. Ker-o-menée, a celebrated Winnebago Chief

51. Ke-wa-din or the North Wind, Chippeway Chief

52. Kitch-ee-i-aa-ba or the Big Buck, a Chippewa Chief

53. The Little Crow, a celebrated Sioux Chief

54. Ma- che-ka-kat or the Bad Hawk, Monomonie Chief

55. Ma-ko-me-ta or Bear's Oil, a Monomonie Chief

56. Mauck-coo-maun, a celebrated Ioway Chief

57. Me-no-quet, a distinguished Pottowattomie Chief

58. A Miami Chief

59. Mi-a-qu-a, a Miami Chief

60. Mish-sha-quat or the Clear Sky, a Chippeway Chief

61. Mo-wan-za or the Little Wolf, a Miami Chief

62. Nan-shaw-a-gaa or the White Dog's Son, Pottawatomie Chief

63. Na-mas or the Little Sturgeon, a Chippeway Chief

64. Na-che-mung-ga, a Miami Chief

65. O-che-na-shink-kaa or the Man that Stands and Strikes, a Winnbago Chief

66. O-hya-wa-nim-ce-kee or the Yellow Thunder, a Chippeway Chief

67. O-wan-ich-koh or the Little Elk, a Winnebago Chief

68. Pe-a-jick, a Chippewa Chief

69. Pe-che-co, a Pottowattomie Chief

70. Pe-schik-ee, a celebrated Chippeway Chief

71. Richardville, the Head Chief of the Miami tribe of Indians

72. She-sheba or the Little Duck, a celebrated Winnebago Chief

73. Shing-gaa-ba-w'osin or the Figure'd Stone, a Chippewa Chief

74. Shounk-chunk the Black Wolf, a Winnebago Chief

75. Sun-a-get or Hard-Times, a Pottawatomie Chief

76. Tens-qua-ta-wa or the One that Opens the Door, Shawnese Prophet, brother of Tecumthe

77. Too-sha-na-gan-ka ot the Little Otter, a Winnebago Chief

78. Tshu-gue-ga, a celebrated Chief, half Winnebago and half French

79. Waa-ba-shaw, a celebrated Sioux Chief

80. Waa-bin-de-ba or the White Headed Eagle, a Chippeway Chief

81. Waa-pa-laa or the Playing Fox, Prince of the Fox tribe

82. Wa-em-boesh-kaa, a Chippeway Chief

83. Wa-kaun or the Snake, a Winnebago Chief

84. Weesh-cub or the Sweet, a noted Chippeway Chief

85. A Winnebago squaw, wife of O'-check-ka or Four Legs

86. A Young Miami Chief

Publication Information

Publisher: Philadelphia: Published by J.O. Lewis




New York Public Library

ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-06-17

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