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Black Rock, A Two Kettle Chief


A look at one of the paintings from my August 5th show at Legacy Gallery, Portraits of Honor

Black Rock, A Two Kettle Chief, Lakota 1830s, source material originally painted by George Catlin

About Black Rock

George Catlin painted Two Kettles chief Black Rock, also called Ee-ah-sa-pa, in the 1830s. Black Rock was respected and admired by the fur traders with whom he did business, so much so that the traders requested a copy of his portrait from Catlin, as well as a copy of the one Catlin painted of Black Rock’s daughter, to hang in their home.

Original painting of Black Rock by George Catlin

"Black Rock, A Two Kettle Chief" by James Ayers

Catlin describes Black Rock in his full state dress, when he came to sit for his portrait:

The first who stepped forward for his portrait was Ee-ah-sa-pa (The Black Rock) chief of the Nee-caw-wee-gee band, a fall and fine looking man, of six feet or more in stature; in a splendid dress, with his lance in his hand; with his pictured robe thrown gracefully over his shoulders, and his head-dress made of war-eagles' quills and ermine skins, falling in a beautiful crest over his back, quite down to his feet, and surmounted on the top with a pair of horns denoting him head leader or war-chief of his band.

This man has been a constant and faithful friend of Mr. McKenzie and others of the Fur Traders, who held him in high estimation, both as an honorable and valiant man, and an estimable companion.

About the Two Kettles Band:

Two Kettles or “Two Boilings” (Oóhe Núŋpa) was a sub division of the Lakota tribe (i.e., the Sioux).

The band appeared to number 800 people (60 to 100 lodges) in the 1830s. Observers claimed the Two Kettles lived among herds of buffalo or lived separate from other bands by the Cheyenne River and the Missouri River. The tribe respected American traders and visitors and hunted skillfully. Early on, they rarely engaged in warfare but later did so. Later still, they signed a treaty agreeing not to attack others except in self-defense.

The Two Kettles (Oohe-nompa) were closely associated with the Miniconjou, originally a sub-band within the Broken Arrow band, which broke up in 1840. The Two Kettle band then formed an autonomous line of descent, with the rest of the Broken Arrow band either remaining part of the Miniconjou tribal association, or joining relatives in other parts of the Teton tribal domain (Oglala, Brule, and Hunkpapa).

Unlike the Broken Arrow Band, which had a bad reputation according to traders and observers ("not well looked upon by the other bands of Sioux, being considered rather refractory and ungovernable") - the Two Kettles would create a very different kind of community.

At a time in the 1840s when the first hints of buffalo depletion were apparent, the Two Kettle leadership developed a new strategy. They co-operated closely with traders and official US personnel, settling near such trading posts as Fort George and Fort Pierre. Some groups planted small gardens of corn and beans. E. T. Denig described the Two Kettles as thrifty, able hunters who trapped for fine furs and participated only marginally in the expansionist war complex identified with most Tetons.

Many Teton peoples approved this response to the gathering resource crisis. The proof can be seen in the growth of the Two Kettles band, which expanded from 60 lodges in 1850 to 170 lodges just fifteen years later, indicating that many people were marrying into the band, signifying general approval.

About the Portraits of Honor by James Ayers show

Please follow the link to read more about Portraits of Honor by James Ayers.

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