Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pow Wow

a friend in Montreal sent a card showing young dancers at a pow wow....the original Algonquian word pau wau, translated to mean a healing activity in which holy men danced in sacred ceremonies. Today its a social activity but participants still dance to honor the ancestors and to thank elders.
Happy New Year Ben and merci for the nice card!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


California has a rich native history but sadly most communities were impacted by the arrival of Europeans with unknown diseases and the forced labor of the Spanish mission system. Later native people were affected by the arrival of American gold miners, driven from their lands and once again decimated by disease and violence. Those who survived continued some of their traditional activities such as gathering wild foods & plants; many of California's native communities were skilled basket makers and used them to store foods as well as sell or trade for manufactured items. Native artists also sold baskets to collectors and museums; today these art objects can be found in some very expensive art galleries.
This basket was made in 1905 by Mrs Dick Francisco, using sedge root, redbud, bracken fern root and deer grass. The artist was a member of the Yokut community who lived near San Francisco and Bakersfield. When this basket was made there were perhaps only 600 tribal members remaining.
My collection is very pleased to have such a lovely card!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Canada, Fall 2013

I haven't been as active lately with my postcard exchanges but recently traded with folks in Canada. Here are cards celebrating historic Northwest Coast Village life and modern pow wow dancing:

This photo of a Kwagiulth village was taken by CF Newcombe (1900) and features  an impressive painted clan house known as the Sea Monster House which belonged to John Scow . It would have been seen by anyone traveling along the coastline. This photo also shows the transition between native made wood plank building and European style construction.

Less information is available on this card but it was printed in Edmonton, Alberta and the young man is likely from that area.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

American Indian Movement

These very interesting large format advertising cards were sent by a European Postcrosser who was in Minneapolis over the summer doing work in the historical archives. They celebrate a book of AIM photos at a local art gallery reception; AIM was a Native American political and legal awakening in the late 1960s and early 1970s that began in Minneapolis and spread all over Indian Country. Many of their ideas & tactics drew from other Civil Rights efforts, but not all favored their more militant approach which essentially ended at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. However the organization is still active and more information can be found on their webpage:


My wonderful penpal Joao found more cards of indigenous peoples in Brazil over the summer, but the envelope was buried on my desk so I am late in posting them! He says native cards are hard to find there, so I consider myself very fortunate to have such a kind friend. I don't read Portuguese but fortunately Wikipedia can translate for us

"Danca dos Tapuias" The term tapuias was given to tribal people in the interior who did not speak the more coastal Tupi language. The Dutch artist for these paintings, Albert Eckhout, lived in the early 1600s and made several illustrations of early colonial South American native life.

"Indios Cacando Passaros" It seems that cacando translates to hunting and perhaps passeros is birds. These tribal people live in the region of the Rio Aripuana and the Roosevelt River in the northern Mato Grosso.

British Columbia, Canada

I was very lucky to exchange cards with a Postcrosser from Canada who lives in British Columbia, home of the Haida nation. Northwest Coast native people have a rich tradition of wood carving that included their homes, furniture, bowls, boxes and several kinds of poles that honored ancestors as well as personal achievements. Many of those old poles were placed in Stanley Park and some remain at Native village sites. Here are 2 wonderful cards from Val

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Viewing Native American Postcards

I am both a scholar and a collector of postcards; I decided to combine the two and have completed a paper discussing how Kiowa, Comanche and Naisha (Plains Apache) people & culture have been presented on postcards. I discussed some of this research at a meeting of the Plains Anthropological Society in 2010. I have submitted the paper to the journal for possible review & publication. A new postcard project may explore postcards of the American Indian Exposition, a combination carnival and indigenous cultural celebration. I have recently acquired many cards from the 1930s & 1940s and have a regional historical journal in mind....a good project for the fall.

Black Kettle, Cheyenne

A Postcrosser in Colorado very kindly exchanged 2 cards commemorating the life and experiences of Black Kettle. In 1864 members of the Colorado militia attacked a camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho located along the Sand Creek in Colorado killing 160 native people, mostly women and children. The location was declared a National Historic Site in 2007.
Sadly Black Kettle, the camp's Cheyenne headman would be killed in another military attack on his camp in Nov 1868, led by George Custer (who would be killed when he attacked a Lakota camp in 1876). Black Kettle and more than 150 native people died along the Washita River in western Oklahoma.

Canadian First Nations Stamps!

I recently received 2 Canadian First Nations postcards and the senders were extra kind to add wonderful First Nations stamps as well.
This one was a thank you from a gal who is coming to visit Chicago...I sent some cards from here to share with her traveling companions. Summer is pow wow season and these grass dancers wear very colorful regalia!
while the stamps celebrate Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), a young Mohawk & Algonkian girl who survived smallpox and found sanctuary with other Catholics. She has recently been named a saint by the Church and is the patroness of the environment. Another stamp celebrates the life of Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, also called Hendrick Tejonihokarawa (1660-1735), a pro-English sachem or leader of the Mohawk against the French. He was later baptized and became a Protestant preacher.

This card was sent as a US/Canada tag and is my first look at the Kejimkujik Natl Park & Historic Site, located in Nova Scotia. The petroglyphs, or rock art, was made by the Mi'kmaw people and is thought to represent a legendary bird who grants magical power to hunters.

The stamps include Tecumseh, a member of the Shawnee nation who had been driven into the Northwest Territory, now Indiana. During the War of 1812 between the US and England he rallied native people to support the British in the hopes of stopping American domination of land and indigenous culture. He was killed in Canada in 1813 and his community was sent to Kansas and later moved to Oklahoma.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Native American postcards end up all over the globe; this card was received in trade from Germany and features a recreation event that can be seen at Plymouth Plantation, a living history museum that tells of an early English colony in the US. In addition to exploring English colonialism the plantation also shows life ways for the Wampanoag people who hunted, fished and grew garden crops. An interpreter demonstrates the making of a dug out canoe in which the middle of a log is burned out.
Wampanoag people were adversely affected by the English; there was conflict over land and resources plus native people died from disease. Many were captured and sold into slavery for the plantations in the Caribbean. Tribal members retained a small amount of their lands and today have state recognition; enrollment has increased and they continue to assert their identity and treaty rights.

more fun tags

I added my name to a US/Canada tag on Postcrossing and received a First Nations Cree man from the province of Alberta. Funny, the sender grew up just a few miles from where I live now...she comes home each year and so one day I may actually meet her in person!
There are many groups of Cree people; those in Alberta lived on the northern plains. Historically they would have hunted and traded with Metis (native people mixed with French).

Another tag features late prehistoric Puebloan pottery (1100-1300AD) in a form referred to as a Stirrup canteen
This postcrosser offered some interesting comments on Chief Moses, discusses in an earlier post.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

a clash of cultures

I am fortunate to receive cards from Central and South America from time to time! This card was sent from Brazil by a Postcrosser in an exchange; I will share her other cards with my students but this one was for me. The text is all in Portuguese but I can get the general impression: the arrival of Europeans in 1500.
Desembarque de Pedro Alvares Cabral em Porto Seguro em 1500
Oslo de Oscar Pereira da Silva (1867-1939)

like other contact situations, Native people in Brazil were affected by European diseases, were enslaved, killed if they resisted, and their lands taken for the extraction of natural resources. They continue to press for their rights to land, protection, medical care and the continuity of cultural traditions.


I have begun to explore the tag forum on Postcrossing....users post their name and in some cases wishes, then another user tags them and sends something nice. Here are 2 cards that came a few weeks ago but have waited patiently to be listed:
 This super lovely heron was painted by a Canadian Fist Nation artist: Paul Windsor, Haisla, Heiltsuk. He is just 32, lives in Vancouver and is an illustrator of books as well. Such a pretty card.

Heline, a Canadian who now lives down in Austin Texas, sent me this lovely photo of a Ute woman and child in a cradleboard taken in 1900. Utes lived a tough life in the Basin, interacting with southwestern, southern plains and mountain tribes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dine (Navajo) child

Victoria in California tagged me and sent this lovely card of a Dine woman and child. I had never seen the photo before and its new to my collection! The image is titled Indian Baby Carriage and easily traced to images held in the Library of Congress. The photo was taken around 1914 and is attributed to the studio of William Pennington & Wesley Rowland. The LOC has a number of Navajo photos with their copyright.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hopi pottery

I love swapping cards with Michelle out in Albuquerque but this one was sent as a "tag" odd arrangement where postcrossers post their name and someone can then claim one of their offerings. I've only participated a few times and am still not sure what its all about! But I was happy to grab Michelle; we've had wonderful exchanges and I was super pleased to ask for this card! The lovely pots are all at the Heard Museum in Phoenix and Michelle notes that her great grandmother had met Maria Martinez, the famous potter from San Idefonso Pueblo (who was known for her black on black style):  "There's a pretty cool family story about great-grandma and Maria, Maria asked her to watch her pottery in front of the Palace of the Governors while she went to do something. A photographer came and took my great-grandma's photo with Maria's pots. Later, the photo showed up in a newspaper saying my great-grandma was Maria! She was Scottish, and didn't look a thing like her!"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Shopping with Snowbirds

The owners of a nice Native art shop in the tourist town of Saugatuck, Michigan have sent their announcement of 2013 shop opening! During the winter they are down in New Mexico, buying from local artists that they have known for many years and then they are here just for a short summer. I always go up for a fun day with friends Ray & Cindy who find lovely things to buy. Occasionally I pick up something small & affordable (last year I got a Navajo doll) but really I just love to hear the owners' stories of their artist friends and learn facts about all their super neat merchandise. They really care about the artists and their families, plus have an encyclopedic knowledge of SW art.They carry real southwestern art, not the tourist junk, and if money fell from the trees I'd find plenty of old big chunky Navajo silver to buy! They also have a small amount of Great Lakes baskets etc.

We always go to the shop first, then have lunch at a cafe, walk the town a bit, and get ice cream. Most of the shops in the town sell clothing, jewelry, handmade art objects, etc and the local drug store still sells post cards. Its a great way to spend a day and we are already making plans to go soon!
And they do carry fine quality Navajo weavings...well out of my price range!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


A great surprise in my mailbox today, thanks to the organization Friends of New Echota. This group works to maintain the Georgia capital of the Cherokee Nation before removal to Indian Territory, my home state of Oklahoma. Sadly in 1830 the US passed the Indian Removal Act, designed to push all tribes out of the eastern half of the US and resettle everyone west of the Mississippi River. The Cherokees stalled and avoided removal for many years, although some moved on their own. The majority were forcibly removed by the government during the winter of 1838, an event known as the Trail of Tears where perhaps 1/4 of the nation died on the way.
Friends of New Echota will mark the 175th anniversary with a memorial service featuring members of Oklahoma and remainder North Carolina Cherokees. Big thanks to Dr. Donna Myers who knows how much I love postcards!

Trail of Tears (watercolor) by Mack Steele, 1977

Friday, May 3, 2013


This card illustrates our global village: it shows a Mayan site in Guatemala, was printed in Australia and sent to me by a Postcrosser in Europe. She also sent another UNESCO card  featuring the Mayan site of Copan in Honduras from the same series.

Tikal was an important Mayan kingdom during the Classic Period, influencing much of the region and controlling local economics. As a result it was able to build many impressive buildings such as this large temple Mayan kingdoms created complex political alliances and were involved in many wars for territory and captives. These actions plus changes in the amount of resources available to feed large settled populations led to the collapse of many kingdoms including Tikal in the 800s AD.

Temple of the Great Jaguar was built in the 700s. It was the tomb of a king, containing offerings of jade, shell and ceramics. The structure is 154 feet high with a religious temple on the top.


I posted a note on the Postcrossing forum seeking more indigenous cards and had a few wonderful replies including one from Brazil who sends this politely edited card. The text indicates: Indian of the tribe of "Cinta Larga" (Large Belt) at the Aripuana River-Rondonia

The community lives in the western Amazon rainforest of Brazil and has been significantly affected by outsiders who exploit the natural resources of the area including rubber, oil, gold and diamonds.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New book!

A new book has been published, available only in England so far, but I'm hoping it will be picked up by Amazon or some US distributor. Am anxious to get a copy...

Author: Richard Green
Foreword: Alan Hughes
Publisher: Spellicans Press, Oxford, UK
Date of publication: 2013
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Genre: Social Sciences / Indigenous peoples / North America / Media Studies / Photography / Postcards
Pagination: 208 pp
Dimensions: 180 mm x 180 mm
Weight: 360 gms
Illustrations: total of 232 vintage postcards illustrated
Colour (122) and black & white (110)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Canadian First Nations

I recently received two cards of Canadian native people/culture.
Colourful Regalia of the Past
The text, written in both French and English, reads "Standing in the familiar surroundings of a great Canadian forest, the Indian Chief proudly wears this traditional dress for a special tribal celebration."

Wolf by Beau Dick, Kwagiulth (2004)
"In ancient times our spirits were connected with the wolf. Wolf was my original ancestor from Kincome Inlet. His name was Kawa'di and he built the first house for my people."

Kwagiulth people have also been called the Kwakiutl and reside in British Columbia. The artist was born on Vancouver Island in 1955 and is best known for his carved wooden masks. His father and grandfather were also well known artists. He discusses his work on his Facebook page:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mayan sites in Mexico's Yucatan

This week's mail brings 2 cards showing Mayan archaeology sites in the Yucatan. Happily I have visited both so the cards bring back vacation memories!

Uxmal is an interesting site just south of the old colonial city of Merida. It has unusual buildings and like other northern cities did well in the Late Classic period (around 800-1100 AD) as the southern cities were declining. The rounded central feature is known as the Pyramid of the Magicians and the steps are indeed narrow & steep, but the view from the top is wonderful. Decorative elements on the other buildings are quite interesting too

Chichen Itza is fairly close to Uxmal and is much better known (and more heavily visited). It was a large city, influenced by the arrival of Toltec merchant warriors in the Late Classic and Post-Classic periods. The large pyramid honors the Feathered Serpent and has been nicely restored. An inside stairway (which is narrow and hot in an Indian Jones way) leads to a small chamber with a jaguar throne. My favorite feature at this large complex is the Temple of the Warriors where this photo was taken had an interesting series of stone columns which held a roof (something like an Egyptian hypo-style hall). British explorers Stephens & Catherwood photographed the site in the 1840s adding to its romance. The site also has a large ball court and a cenote, a naturally occurring limestone pool which was considered as a sacred gateway to the underworld. There is a lovely old colonial hotel nearby, used by archaeologists and travelers, and very comfortable especially on hot & humid days!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chief Moses horse mask

This card is a bit of a was sent by a friend in Australia; is titled A group of Washington Indians in ceremonial dress and was printed in Idaho. Most likely the photo was taken in the 1950s. Sadly the card text provides no more information but the image itself is revealing: two of the horses are decorated in distinctive ways!
The front horse wears a red wool face mask with neck drape, while a rear one wears a blue bead breastcollar. Horse masks were used by many plains people and were originally crafted from buffalo hide; in the late 1800s wool and cotton were used, decorated with seed beads, ribbons, metal bells, small mirrors etc. These were also crafted by tribes of the Plateau including Salish, Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Cayuse; red wool seems to have been favored by the Cayuse & Umatilla. Breastcollars appear towards the late 1800s and were used for parades by Crow, Nez Perce and Cayuse among others.

This face mask belonged to Chief Moses (1829-1899), a member of the Sinkayuse who reside on the Colville Reservation in eastern Washington. The mask is blue & green painted buffalo hide (suggesting the power of storm clouds) decorated with brass bells, silk ribbons and feathers. The horse mask is topped with blue beaded "horns" made from dried buffalo tails. The hand prints on the red wool neck drape recalled hand to hand combat with a Blackfeet warrior that occurred sometime in the mid 1800s.
 The rider of this horse, possibly Chief Moses' nephew who inherited the horse mask, also wears Chief Moses ' eagle feather and ermine tail headdress with blue beaded "horns" that mirror the horse mask.

For more information on this interesting, but little known, aspect of native material culture please read Native American Horse Gear by E. Helene Sage (2012) and American Indian Horse Masks by Mike Cowdrey (2006) which contains an excellent discussion of Chief Moses' regalia.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poverty Point, Louisiana

A friend (my academic mentor) recently drove through Louisiana and stopped at Poverty Point, an ancient site where inhabitants altered the landscape from 1600 to 700BC. They created mounds and other earthworks, plus made art. They also imported exotic natural materials from the Ozarks, Tennessee and the Great Lakes.
The little owl pendants are made from red jasper.
These are thought to be stone net weights; the site is located near the Mississippi River and residents likely fished, hunted and collected wild plants.
Today the site is protected as a national monument; the majority of Native mounds and earth works have been destroyed by modern farming, urban development and highways. These cards are my first from this ancient site!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Aztec Mexico

this week's mail was full of great postcards! Two present aspects of Aztec culture & society related to their calendar system. Like most complex societies, the Aztec devised a system for determining the best days to plant, get married, do important activities, hold religious ceremonies etc. Some days were considered more fortunate; individuals born on those dates would be successful in life while those born on unlucky days were bound by fate to fail, Aztec scribes & priests kept track of their information by stone engravings and folding paper books known as a codix which they continued to make even after the conquest.

 The Aztec Sun Stone was found in the main square of Mexico City in 1790. It was a part of the temple complex in the heart of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. This complex was destroyed by the Spanish and most of the stones used to build colonial buildings and churches that form modern Mexico City. Today this sculpture is found in Mexico's National Anthropology Museum and is a common symbol on many tourist goods; it has even appeared in stories about the supposed Mayan world end of Dec 2012. Thanks to a Postcrosser who visited the Museum and brought this card home!

This curious little astrology card came from an exchange partner in Hawaii. The image is an Aztec warrior dressed in feline outfit, armed with an obsidian studded war club, and a decorative feather shield. The best Aztec warriors were members of specialized military groups, similar to European knights, who participated in hand to hand combat with the hope of bringing home war captives. Sadly few of the feathered shields have survived; feather work was highly prized and exotic feathers were sent as tribute from vassel states to the Empire. After the conquest the best artisans used their skills to make Catholic religious art in feathers.
Sales of this card benefit preservation of the Ituri Rain Forest in the DR Congo

Saturday, March 9, 2013

NM old & new

More great cards from New Mexico arrived today!

This card features two elder Navajo (Dine) women wearing velveteen blouses and broom skirts, styles adapted from soldier's wives when the Navajo were forced to walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in the 1860s. The Long Walk and time spent at this reservation resulted in the deaths of many native people; after four years the reservation was abandoned and the Navajo were allowed to return home to the Four Corners region.

This card features native rock art found at the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico. The site has more than 21,000 carvings of birds, animals, fish, plants and humans made by the Mogollon people, ancestors to the Pueblos, between 900 and 1400AD.

This is a well known image of women from the Pueblo village of Zuni. A series of cards using images from the same photo shoot were produced in the 1960s and 1970s but this card offers a nice colorful close portrait of the women. They wear very fine jewelry including large silver & turquoise squash blossom necklaces, coral necklaces, and silver & turquoise pins. Zuni pottery is made from local clay with a white slip and redish designs. The deer with a heart line began appearing in the mid 1800s; other designs include frogs, lizards, birds and geometric patterns. In the 1920s Zuni women began performing a dance while balancing a pot on their heads, honoring women's activities such as carrying water home and tending gardens.

Friday, February 22, 2013


I'm always so happy to find cards that are new to me, especially of tribal groups which are under-represented in my collection. I have very few cards of Florida and other SE native people and was super happy to trade with a Postcrosser for this Timucuan man.The Timucua were hunters & fishermen and had retained many of the Mississippian era features including body tattoos, wearing large ear spools, and using shells. Sadly this community was heavily impacted by DeSoto's march thru the SE in the 1540s....most all of Florida's original inhabitants died from disease, warfare, hard labor at Spanish Missions, and being taken in slave raids by native people allied to the English. Some of the remnants blended with Creeks to form the Seminole community in the 1800s.
This card was acquired at the Kingsley Plantation Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve on Fort Jackson Island, Jacksonville, FL.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bandelier Natl Monument

received 2 more great New Mexico cards from a fellow Postcrosser. Bandelier National Monument is located south of Los Alamos, NM and was home to Ancestral Puebloan peoples who lived in the canyons and on the mesa tops sometime around 1200AD. The large round structure is a Kiva, an underground religious space; climbing the ladder re-enacts man's journey from below ground into the present reality. Environment and social pressure encouraged the people to move to the Rio Grande and establish other settlements in the 1500s.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gila Cliff

2013 is off to a great start with a wonderful card of Gila Cliff dwellings sent by a Postcrosser (sushigirl) in New Mexico. This ancient site was built by early Puebloans around 1300AD in southwestern New Mexico.This site was likely occupied by families who gathered food in the nearby canyons and were part of the Puebloan migrations. The ruins were found by Americans in the late 1800s and have been a tourist destination since President Teddy Roosevelt created the National Monument that protects the area today. A very nice card to add to my collection!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas 2012

Friends kindly sent postcards inside their holiday greeting cards!

Eileen sends a vintage card of a Jicarilla Apache man known as James A. Garfield, printed by Detroit Photographic Co in 1899 and mailed to London in 1903. Garfield, also known as Velarde, lived as a farmer/rancher on the Jicarilla Reservation in New Mexico. A color tinted version of the Edward S. Curtis is a well known inmage. He wears a Presidential peace medal and an otter fur bandolier.

Laura (Stamp Raider) also sent two wonderful vintage cards!

This encampment at Lake of the Woods, Ontario Canada includes traditional bark covered wickiups, canvas tipis and a canvas wall tent. The card was printed in England but mailed from Canada to Belgium in 1920.

Carved wooden poles placed in Thunderbird Park, Victoria BC, Canada. This park began in 1940 when a vacant lot in Victoria was used by the provincial museum to display poles; in the 1960s they were moved indoors and restored. Visitors enjoyed seeing the work and so new poles were also carved in the shop. For more information read Looking at Totem Poles by Hilary Stewart (1993).