September 19, 2013 08:00 PM EDT Cincinnati


Crow Foot's (1836-1890) Blackfeet Dag Knife with Beaded Hide Sheath From the Collection of Marvin L. Lince, Oregon

blacksmith made knife with maple handle detailed with two brass tacks on head of knife, length 16.75 in., length of blade 10 in.; sinew-sewn buffalo hide knife sheath lined with rawhide and beaded in colors of light blue, dark blue, red white-heart, pink, greasy yellow, and pea green; lower edge of sheath detailed with white beaded fringe, length 24.5 in. x width 4.5 in. Included is a framed letter written in 1888 on United States Indian Service letterhead at the Blackfeet Indian Agency.  Letter states that the knife was owned by Crow Foot; reverse of the framed letter states: Dr. Martin to John I Chambers/ Jacksonville, Illinois.

United States Indian Service/ Blackfeet Agency/ Piegon, Montana/ Oct. 8, 1888

This "Smooka", was once the property of "Crow Foot", the Great Chief of the Blackfeet, once the most powerful and warlike of the Indian Tribes.  A few years ago, they could muster ten thousand warriors.  The greater part of them, live in British America.  Crow Foot used the knife as one instrument of warfare, and in a personal combat with two "Cree" a few years ago.  He killed them both and took their scalps, which circumstance he noted by driving two brass tacks in the handle of the knife.  A few months ago "Crow Foot" visited this Agency, (for our people are under his rule) and brought this knife with him and gave it to one of the Indians, here, and thos[sic] Indian gave it to the Esonuckey. So you may be sure its history is correct.  Crow Foot is grow old and I trust that he will soon wrap his blanket around him and lie down to pleasant dreams.  So note(?) it be. 

Crow Foot (1836-1890) was a renowned warrior who took part in 19 tribal battles, sustaining wounds on six occasions. Attaining chieftainship in 1870, he made peace with his Cree neighbors and welcomed the Northwest Mounted Police to Blackfoot territory.

Dr. George S. Martin (1867-1932) was the Blackfeet Agency's physician for 13 years and wrote several papers discussing the horrific cases and deaths due to tuberculosis on the reservations.  He advocated for the prevention and treatment of this deadly disease.  According to census records Martin was born in Missouri where he spent most of his adult life, until his death, in Montana.  Martin married twice; the second marriage was to a Blackfeet woman, Alice.  

John I. Chambers (1836- ?) of Jacksonville, Illinois, is listed in the 1880 census as a lumber merchant.  The relationship between Martin and Chambers is unclear. 

Provenance:From the Collection of Marvin L. Lince, Oregon

Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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