tv Native Americans in 19th Century Washington D.C. CSPAN November 2, 2014 1:30pm-2:01pm EST
the greatest economic boosters of the state of colorado. he was a well-respected businessman by the time he died and was given credit for opening southern colorado to economic development. he opened up the entire region to trade and commerce and was seen as one of the most important people who ever lived in the state. throughout the weekend, american history tv is featuring colorado springs, colorado. our staff toward there to learn about its rich history. learn more about colorado c-span.org/local
content. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span three. traveled totory tv the library of congress's kludgy center. up next, we will speak with one of their 2014 fellows will stop >> joining us is joseph genetin-pilawa, an assistant history professor at george mason university. this is your first day at the library of congress. what brings you here? >> i am a kluge fellow this academic year and i'm working on a research project that i am calling the indian capital city, which is a study of the visual, symbolic, and lived native experiences in washington dc, or thinking it as an indigenous history of the city.
i'm interested in looking at the ways that native people across the 19th and early 20th century claimed and reclaimed spaces within the city. >> can you explain what you mean by those terms? >> there is obviously a deep and rich indigenous history in the chesapeake and potomac region. the federal city today sits on native homeland. when i am thinking about reclaiming, i'm thinking about reclaiming homeland territory, essentially. however, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries as washington became the federal city, native diplomats and delegates from communities across the country as well as residents, people who came here to live and maybe work as lobbyists, even, claimed parts of the city as their own
and marks them as indigenous in a number of different ways. i think this is important because it does a couple of different things. in terms of thinking about urban history, it complicates our story. i thought for a long time that the ways in which we conceptualize native history and urban history are separate. native history is taking place and going on and then at some point it stops and there is a gap. urban history starts. there is no meeting point between the two. in reality, i think we understand that that is not really accurate. that is what our popular culture, even our academic studies have suggested. in washington in particular, i think this is a really important story or set of stories because
native people had a significant role in shaping the city. it is important to remember that washington was a local place before was a national capital. it had to learn how to become national and think of itself as a national city. it also became global at some point, too. native people and a native presence helped shape that process as well. that process of becoming. >> what part of the 19th century are we talking about when we talk about native american influence in? washington? >> if we think about the actual native population in the city, there are ads and flows. at particular moments in the time. surrounding the removal policy of the 1830's, when large numbers of cherokee and other southeastern tribal nations were coming to the city, there were very large numbers of native people here. in the 1850's and 1870's, these
were time periods where there were large numbers of native people in the city. i want to span the entire 19th century from the beginning of the city as a federal city and even come up into and through the 20th century. one of the things i will be doing at the library is thinking about how to bookend the project. there is a wealth of great material, but finding a way to present it in a coherent fashion with logical beginning and ending points is going to be something that i need to grapple with a little bit. >> how did the presence of native americans change washington? are the remnants of their presence today? >> yeah. that is a really good question. one of the things that i want to focus on in particular with this project is sort of the tension between the commemorative and symbolic representation of native people and the lived
experiences of native people in the city. if we want to think about representation, the stories are written all over the walls in the capital building. the capitol rotunda features these giants release over each one of the directional doors, -- giant reliefs over each one of the directional doors depicting these. in the architecture on the outside of the building, there are representations of native people there. in other federal buildings across the city. also in other parts of the city as well. i'm interested in a bridge that i hope we could talk about called the buffalo bridge that has 56 indianhead busts adorning
each side of the bridge as well as buffalo along the top. the visual representation and symbolic representations are all over the place. throughout the 19th century, there were dozens and sometimes hundreds of native delegates, residents, and visitors in the city at any given moment. what is interesting is the tension between the stories being told on the wall, which is one of conquest that was nearly completed, a conquering of the west, manifest destiny, the vanishing indian, all those prominent 19th-century ideas that native people would soon cease to exist as a distinct ethnic group within the national fabric. this is the story that is on the wall. non-native washingtonians, white washingtonians are running into native people all around the city, and the streets and also
federal buildings -- streets and halls in federal buildings, in taverns, even in cemeteries. there were 24, at least, native delegates who died here and are buried in the congressional cemetery. >> what kind of an influenced to the native delegates have? who were they, why were they here? >> the delegates -- ok. they were very well-known diplomats. people like red jacket, kicking bear. john rock. peter pitchland actually wrote once that he felt more home in washington dc than anywhere else. he ended up living here for a significant part of his life. lily parker, who became the first native american
commissioner of the office of indian affairs. lived in the city but had been coming for a decade or more prior to that. these delegations are sometimes very big. it would not be red cloud, but it would be red cloud and several other lakota men and women that would make the trip. oftentimes, the trips were at the request of the office of indian affairs. indian agents in the field might write and suggest that a delegation would help to facilitate a treaty or agreement. other times the visits were designed to intimidate, to bring native people from the west into the city to impress upon them the wealth and the might of the united states. the visits around the city, the towards that they would take also included visits to the armory and the navy yard and a demonstration of cannons and
things like that. the visits also included meetings with legislators, senators, congressmen. usually at least one or two ceremonial visits to the white house. the work of the delegations centered around diplomacy. washington became more than that for native people. there also quote unquote official delegations. native leaders would come to the city of their own accord, seeking an presence with the office of native affairs were another organization. >> in your mind, are those delegates claiming space in washington just by their presence? >> presence is important. in rethinking historical
literature on the city itself, this is kind of the salvage part of the project. reclaiming that history of a native presence. i have suggested in some of the early work that i have done that this was a normative experience for many native leaders. some of the writing that exists on the native presence in washington focuses on how it may have been an alien place. it may have seemed overwhelming to native visitors. that would have been true of any rural visitor in 19th-century washington or the 19th-century united states, coming for the first time to washington. it would have seemed overwhelming. the presence it self is
important. but, there are all these amazing stories about how native people actively claim space. there was a portrait artist named charles king who painted portraits of indian delegates for about a twenty-year period from the 1820's to the 1840's. charles king painted these incredible oporto. thomas mckinney, who was the secretary of indian affairs, would purchase these portraits and use them to adorn the walls of the office of indian affairs. it became known as the indian gallery. tourist guides through the city also noted that the office of indian affairs is an important destination because they can see these paintings. it is one of the most interesting paintings in the city.
what i find most interesting about the portrait galley is that native delegates became aware of it, more and more native people requested to be added to it. there is a story about, in 1828, at the time they were called winnebago, ho chunk is more accurate, a group was looking for their community and had visited the city before. they desire to have the portraits maine. the federal government did not want to spend money on the portraits at times and this is one of those moments. there is a lengthy correspondence between thomas mckinney and the secretary of war whether or not they could find money to do this because it meant something to them to be added to the order gallery. they offer to sell some of the things they brought with them to
raise the money or they would just add those things, weapons, ceremonial regalia, to the gallery, just so there was something representing them on the wall. i thought a lot about what this must have meant to these men and women. when they went back west, they talked about how ultimately they were able to have their portraits made and how their images were on the wall in the office of indian affairs. seeing the portraits meant something. it was a way to connect across time with members of one community who had visited the city before and had similar experiences. to me, i look at that as a way to mark that wall. the native men and women were portrayed with accoutrement of prestige. ribbons, metals, things that denoted their position in the
community, but more important, it was a way to mark the wall. in the chapter i am writing about this, i refer to it as indigenous tagging. like graffiti, it is the same thing to me. red jacket having his portrait in the wall was the same as scrawling "red jacket was here." if we go to the occupation of the indian affairs in the 1850's, one of the dramatic things they did during the occupation besides destroying documents are reclaiming documents was spray-painted graffiti all over the walls of the office. sending messages and claiming those walls, claiming that space as an indigenous space. i think there is an interesting connection across time. >> the buffalo bridge you mentioned, was that another example of claiming space? >> the buffalo bridge is an
example of how washington dc is it self the city, is a multilayered, urban archive of indigenous history. there is this bridge that exists that connects two streets in georgetown. they are bordering dupont circle. georgetown existed prior to washington. i think 1751 is when it was founded. decades before washington or the district of columbia. as the city developed over decades in into the 19th century, it sprawled closer and closer. there was a proposition to connect the two. rock creek in the rock creek george separated them geographically. they got to build a bridge. king street was the location selected for the bridge. there were a couple of issues.
q street in washington andq street in georgetown are about 185 feet apart. the bridge would have to be curved, and secondly, q street ended in the historic dumbarton mansion, which had to be lifted up and moved about 100 feet to the able to build the bridge. there was a question about whether they should be a breach -- bridge. why not fill in rock creek gorge with rocks and other stuff? ultimately, they did not do. they got an architect named glenn brown at the turn of the 20th century to design this bridge and he used trendy design elements of the time. this was the time of the city beautiful movement. the bridge, rather than being a simple utilitarian structure is this grand bridge with these
neoclassical arches. it looks like roman aqueducts. it is very much part of the city beautiful movement. the city beautiful movement was popularized during the world fair of 1893 in chicago. the other main aesthetic of the world's fair was a romanticization of the american frontier. this was the closing of the frontier. the 1890 census declare the front are closed. there was a romantic nation -- romanticization going on. they also wanted to have nostalgia about the bygone american past. they put four gigantic buffalo along the top of the bridge and decided to carve into each side of the bridge 28 indian busts. they used what they thought was a generic plains indian head.
if you run or drive underneath the bridge today, you will see these heads jutting out with prominent features and a war bonnet or headdress. it is all the same one. just replicated 28 times on each side of the bridge. it is really interesting. to think about at the turn of the 20th century that the bridge architect is using these ideas as he is imagining this ridge in washington. it gets more interesting. if we think about what those images were. the bust that he modeled the indianhead carvings on was actually a life mask of a real man. a man named kicking bear, who was a lakota leader who helped to bring the ghost dance to the planes which ultimately led to me. not only was this a native at -- led to wounded knee. not only was this a native man, he was a man who flocked the united states militarily and spiritually.
the 1890's, he met with officials of the office of american affairs and he fought united states colonialism diplomatically in the city. with these architectural design elements, a kind of seems like they are free-floating images of the salter, but they actually commemorate this anti-colonial leader who talk united states militarily, spiritually, and diplomatically. here's where it gets more interesting. in the 1890's, there is an archaeologist named wh homes in the city. he became one of the directors of the national museum of the smithsonian. one-time setup avenue. another time he let a significant excavation of the dumbarton house -- one time he dug up connecticut avenue. another time he led a significant excavation of the tim hortons house.
he found it was a significant stone quarry site for native people in area finance. they used stone tools these trendy design elements that are supposedly commemorating a fight on eric, but it actually commemorates a bygone -- a -- -- it is built over the top of this site that has been special to native americans for eons to stop i think about this concept, ancient and modern, the vanishing and ever present are right there. >> you bring a rich and deep knowledge of the of american is present in washington dc. ?
how to use your research unfolding? >> am excited about the opportunity. the center is a great place to work. i am interested in the papers of individual statesman that are in the manuscript division, people like irvin stewart and others. these men wrote about their interaction with the native people in the city. there will be good material there. other sources that exist that i think is crucial to this project is the collection of tourist guidebooks and customs manuals from the 19th and early 20th century. my preliminary search turned up over 140 in the library. some of these are reprints, but
there is a lot here. these tourist guidebooks were written in the 19th century for people coming to visit washington and essentially there is a short section on all of the different buildings, different neighborhoods and all of that. they also contain amazing anecdotes on stories, to kind of give the potential tourist a flavor of the city. a lot of these anecdotes talk about native people. they talk about native people in the capitol rotunda engaging with those images on the relief and in the painting. they talk about the different hotels and boarding houses around the city were native people stayed. there was a hotel called the union hotel on 13th and pennsylvania that was known as indian headquarters because they catered primarily to native delegations. those guidebooks are an incredibly useful source.
beyond that, these custom manuals were written by elite white women in the 19th century. this is one of the things it was not expecting to find when i started to look at these and why am so excited to look at more of them. these were kind of designed as primers to the social scene in washington for the wives of incoming senators and congressmen and others. washington and the 19th century and even today was not like new york or new orleans, where they would hold money and established social circles. there is a lot of flux. people are coming in and out. the wives of the statesman would not have a long time to get adjusted. this is sort of a primer to get ready for it. reading through these, these women were writing about native
men around the city. they're writing about the statues and paintings, but writing about the men themselves. the thing i found fascinating is the waste they were writing about these men in iraq sized ways -- eroticized ways. they are writing about the men's naked bodies and their muscles and their thrilling voices. elite white women in the 19th century were considered the paragons of white virtue. therefore, their sexuality was also closely policed. it is kind of a shock to see them writing about non-white men in an eroticized way. i have been thinking about a lot
why that might be. i do not have a lot of conclusions. washington was a liminal space. i doubt many women could have written so freely about native men in this way in the west in the 19th century. it would have been more threatening. because there was a perception even at the time that there was not a huge native presence in the city or that any native presence in the city was a transient, temporary presence, allowed it to be more risqué. it was less of an affront to any sort of racial order. i'm excited to see if i can find more examples of that. >> when you're working or is concluded, what do you hope to do with your findings? >> this is a book project. i published my first book with university of north carolina and i'm hoping to work with the press again on this book. there is an amazing visual
aspect as well. part of the project is about a movement of people. in addition to a standard monograph, which will focus on washington dc and not only will the native people in the historical record be the main characters, the city itself will be a main character. it is a place of study. it is about a place. that movement, the journey is also an important part of the story. they really kind of allows me to think about a digital humanities project. a mapping project where these journeys can be animated and represented digitally. often times the delegates would leave their home communities in the west and visit several cities along the way. they might come to st. louis and that would be their point of the
parser. they would go from there to since -- point of departure. they would go from there to cincinnati, from there to pittsburgh or new york or boston and baltimore, and then washington dc. all along the way, they are visiting cities. newspapers are writing about their presence. they were having different kinds of experiences. that story looked very of secured, i guess would be a way to describe it. the movement within the city. native delegates would sometimes stay here for weeks or months while congress was in session and so they were visiting theaters and taverns. they were going to the navy yard's. they were going to various other parts of the city. i want to be able to represent that movement. we think of native people in the 19th century as being static. these are dynamic stories. pairing a digital humanities project with the traditional circle monograph will allow to
tell the story in different ways. >> joseph genetin-pilawa, thank you for joining us. authornday night, the and former chief medical officer under president obama. >> if there is one message in the book to take away, it's the notion and innovative state is characterized by handshakes and handoffs will stop this speaks to your question as to who should do what. whatandshakes are washington has been doing lately, maybe behind the curtain and not as well reported in the media, shaking hands on some of the key principles on the innovative state, opening up data and encouraging collaborative work. that means the opportunity to have a more open government starts with a bipartisan commitment to lay the foundation
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