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Cherokee Indians

Basire, Isaac __Engraver ||Markham __After
Place Made:
London Great Britain
Date Made:
ink on paper
site of print only HOA 18 1/4; WOA 22
Accession Number:
For much of the eighteenth century the balance of power between the English, French, and Spanish was held by the Indians. Escorting a delegation to England was one means through which allegiances could be secured. In 1730 Sir Alexander Cuming escorted a delegation of seven Cherokees—one king and six warriors—from Charleston, South Carolina to London, England for the purpose of securing a new treaty.

The seven men, Oukah-Ulah, Kitagista, Tiftowe, Clogoitah, Kilonah, Onokanowin, and Oukounaco set sail from Charleston harbor on the Man of War FOX on May 4, 1730. The Cherokees dined with King George II and kissed his hand and the hands of his sons. The Indians remained in England four months and concluded an article of agreement by which the Cherokees agreed to trade only with the English, to allow no other white people to settle in their country, to aid the English in war, and to permit white offenders within their nation to be punished by English Law.

During the visit, an artist identified only as Markham painted a group portrait, subsequently etched by Isaac Basire. While contemporary accounts describe the natives as being “naked, except an Apron about their Middles,” in this image they are pictured primarily, though not completely, clothed in European attire. Despite their clothing and the fact that their deportment was rendered in a manner characteristic of the aristocracy, their facial tattooing and hairstyles leave little doubt that these men were culturally alien to the English. Somewhat disconcerting, then and now, is that each of the seven is pictured brandishing some form of weaponry from European swords and firearms to Indian tomahawks, clubs, bows and arrows.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton