1908 Portrait of Soldiers Lodge Dakota Sioux Tribe, Chief RED OWL (Hehan Duta)

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1908 Portrait of Soldiers Lodge Dakota Sioux Tribe, Chief RED OWL (Hehan Duta)
Historic Americana
Outstanding A.C. Scarles Portrait of Indian Chief Red Owl
1908-Dated, Hand-Carved and Painted Portrait of Native American Indian Lower Dakota, Soldiers Lodge, Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe, Chief Red Owl (Hehan Duta, 1813-1861), by A.C. Scarles, from a Raphael Tuck & Sons Postcard, Framed, Choice Extremely Fine.
1908-Dated Unique Highly Decorative Portrait of Native American Indian Chief “Red Owl” on board, measuring 15.75” x 23.25” (by sight), handsome modern gold gilt wooden framed to an overall size of 20” x 27.5”. Artist Signed, “A.C. Scarles, 08” at lower right. Chief Red Owl (Hehan Duta, 1813-1861). On August 10, 1860, Joseph Renshaul Brown, wrote to Captain G.A. DeRussy concerning, Chief Red Owl, or the "Man who paints himself Red." Handsomely Painted on board in what appears to be tempera paint, this image is taken after a Rapheal Tuck & Sons original postcard. Tuck had his Series #2171 featuring Native American Indian Chiefs which he produced in the early 20th century. The wooden board displays a number of decorative added etched Native American motifs including Peace pipes, Tomahawks and Bow & Arrows. This image shows Chief Red Owl in a chest-up pose, wearing his full headdress in vibrant colors of blue, red, black and white with a lovely, exquisitely surrounded with an impressive hand-carved tile style pattern. Obviously, he was a very handsome fellow. We could not find any information on the artist, but when compared to the postcard image, he did a very nice, accurate portrait in this rendering. A wonderful example for any Native American Indian collection that is highly attractive and ready to hang upon display.

See much more information about the historic Chief Red Owl, presented in our online catalog version at: www.EarlyAmerican.com

He-Han-Du-Ta (Red Owl) - Tribe: Mdewakanton, Sioux


Of the Lower Dakota (Sioux) Soldiers Lodge (Tiotipi)

Soldiers Lodge Speaker: 1857 - August 23, 1861

(By: Edward M. Red Owl)

In the 1850s, approximately 150 Lower Dakotas formed a Soldiers Lodge, Tiotipi, at the Lower Dakota Community. The Soldiers Lodge, which previously served as the governing authority for the community, was formed to exert an aggressive voice on behalf of the traditional families in the community. Members of the Soldiers Lodge were committed to the ceremonial rites, values, and customs of the Eastern Dakotas, MdeWakantonwan Band. In particular, the Lower Dakota Soldiers Lodge objected to the growing influence of the government, school, and missionaries, which were intended to civilize and Christianize members of the community.

In 1857, the Lower Dakota Soldiers Lodge selected Red Owl, Hehan Duta, as their speaker. He had been given the name, Hehan Duta, due to his having been a member of a prominent society, called Hehan Duta Unwapaha, Red Owl Feather Headdress Society, so named due to the members who wore feather headdresses made of scarlet and dyed owl feathers as well as eagle feathers with a scarlet feather attached at the tip. Members also would paint half of their body's black, and the other half red. Members of this society also wore buckskin shirts with fringed sleeves, leggings with strips of beadwork, and sashes of red flannel trailing down the back and decorated with quillwork. In times of war, this society fulfilled the role of helping the wounded in battle, or if anyone had been killed in battle, to rescue the body and bring it home.

The leaders of this society had taken vows to assure that in a battle, no wounded or anyone killed would be left behind. It is said that they were the first on the field of battle and the last to leave the field of war. In the community, the officers of this society exercised the responsibility of resolving disputes or quarrels so that harmony and peace in the community would prevail at all times. The leadership of this society were older men who were required to not show nor demonstrate jealousy about relationships or the possessions or deeds of others. Such men usually were heads of large families who had earned considerable wealth and had gained respect and standing in the local community.

On October 12, 1857, Captain Sully submitted the following report to Superintendent Cullen:

"Red Owl, who I understand has been appointed Captain of Police, and some twenty five of his policemen from different bands called on me today to complain of a Mr. Jonis LaCroix, who they state without any authority, is building, cutting down timber on their reserve, and requested me to put him off, telling me at the same time that he was in partnership with a trader at the Agency so that in case any more land should be sold, they would have a pre-emption to some of the best of the reserve." Campbell, an interpreter, told Sully:

"The Indians were near taking the law into their hands, pulling his (La Croix's) house down." The interpreter noted that LaCroix was "a full blooded white and his woman is from one of the bands from the Missouri."

On August 10, 1860, Joseph Renshaul Brown, wrote to Captain G.A. DeRussy, concerning, Red Owl, or the "Man who paints himself Red":

"He is determined to prevent the further erection of houses for the improvement of the Indians. He is openly shooting the cattle employed in hauling brick and other materials, and says he will kill men as well as oxen, and attempted to shoot Mr. Cullen yesterday."

Brown further noted:

"He has the reputation of being a very desperate and vicious man, so much so that other Indians believe that he is subject to fits of insanity. He has been a steady and constant opponent of civilization among the Indians, and permitted no opportunity to escape in annoying the Indians who have put on white clothing."

In 1861, Bishop Whipple was impressed with Red Owl's oratory at Lower Dakota Council meetings. Bishop Whipple commented: "When Red Owl spoke, his words seems to sway his hearers as leaves are moved by the wind."

On June 25, 1861, Red Owl spoke in council with the new Dakota agent, Thomas J. Galbraith, who had replaced Agent Joseph Brown. Galbraith met with the Lower Dakota Council for purposes of assuring them of the government's good intentions for their wellbeing, although in fact, his becoming agent was the result of a conspiracy by Minnesota congressmen to obtain jobs for political friends and to devise ways of defrauding the Lower Dakotas of their monies and goods.

Red Owl thoroughly understood agent Galbraith's real intentions, as he had understood Joseph Brown's questionable and self-serving conduct as agent among the Dakotas previously. Galbraith met with the Lower Dakota Council to convince them to allow white settlers to enter their reservation and to authorize their purchase of reservation lands at the rate of $1.25 per acre. Philander Prescott, interpreter, provided the following words of Chief Red Owl at the council meeting:

"The Dakotas had been promised all these things before, and had been cheated out of them. The property that had been promised and … sent them by the government, had somehow not reached them. They gave their lands to the Great Father at Washington… but the money has been stolen or lost, somehow, and they had not had more than enough to cover the nakedness of the women and children. White the whites, and especially the Great Father… had full round faces… and had fine clothes, his Dakota tribe was ragged, and he himself was now so hungry that he was scarcely able to stand up to represent his people. Five thousand dollars worth of goods were paid for with their money, and yet had been taken by the late agent (Joseph Brown) to a distant part of the country… for storage, and much had not been returned… They wanted a storehouse of their own where the goods cannot slip through anybody's fingers! Red Owl complained loudly of their former agent, Brown (who had) hardly been there at all this year, but would sometimes come at night, and go away before daylight… Red Owl also complained that the large sum appropriated for the education fund… had all been used up in building the score of worthless houses in the vicinity."

Regarding agent Galbraith's request that the Lower Dakotas authorize sale of lands to white settlers, interpreter Philander Prescott gave a description of Red Owl's response:

"The Great Father has plenty of land elsewhere which he can give to these white children of his who are settled on our lands which the Great Father gave us."

During his tenure as Speaker of the Lower Dakota Soldiers Lodge, Red Owl continued to uphold the traditional ways of his people, particularly with regard to their ceremonial rites and values. There is frequent notice of the Soldiers Lodge having "drumming and singing' throughout the night, which disturbed the government employees and missionaries in the community.

On August 23, 1861, Chief Red Owl died at the Lower Dakota Soldiers Lodge. Bishop Whipple had noted that Red Owl had expressed an interest in the crucifixion and allegedly had asked that a cross be placed at his grave; however, no record exists of his ever having been baptized or having been given a Christian rite of burial.

One year following Chief Red Owl's death, members of his family and extended family participated in the Dakota War of August 1862. In the months following this war, members of Red Owl's family were sentenced to prison and exile at the Santee Reservation in Nebraska.

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