Sep 27, 2018 - Sale 2486

Sale 2486 - Lot 182

Price Realized: $ 531
Show Hammer Price?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(AMERICAN INDIANS.) Menahka, or the Last of the Mandans. 4 ink drawings after Catlin. [31] manuscript pages on lined paper. 4to, 8 x 6 1/2 inches, original front wrapper with manuscript title, worn and stitched with ribbon; minor wear and foxing to contents. Np, circa late 19th century

Additional Details

This manuscript purports to be the story of Menahka, a Mandan chief, as told to "one of the Fur Company's traders in the Far West" who signed his name as "X.Y." Menahka is presented as being the last surviving member of the Mandans after an 1837 smallpox epidemic and depredations by their Sioux enemies killed the rest. While these were actual historic events, the Mandans did not disappear; their few survivors joined forces with two other groups, as members of today's Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in North Dakota would attest.
This narrative is likely an unpublished work of fiction. We can find no record of Menahka or his wife Edayhush as historical figures, though Menahka is the Mandan word for sun and Edayhush, the Mandan word for light. The drawings are based closely upon the 1845 George Catlin line illustrations from "Illustrations of the Manners, Customs & Condition of the North American Indians." "Mandan Cemetery" is from the illustration of the same name, while the portrait of Menahka is copied closely from Catlin's portrait titled Tal-lee. The buffalo near the end of this work is copied from one of Catlin's more enduring images, while we have not traced the source image for the Edayhush portrait. The story is well told, though the Great Spirits and Happy Hunting Grounds may be invoked perhaps too liberally--the account of the smallpox epidemic is quite poignant.