The Chief Of State And The Chief

In the snarled disputes over the Yazoo land claims in 1790 George Washington and an educated Creek chieftain turned out to be the diplomatic kingpins

Shortly past noon on April 30, 1789, a tall, somber man, dressed in a simple brown suit, was inaugurated as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall in New York City. For the people who watched the ceremony it was a day of celebration and of enthusiastic confidence in the man who now led them. But the emotion that stirred the crowd, the cannon salutes, the cheers, could not soothe the anxiety of the new President.Read more »

Horsepower Comes To The Magpies

One of the most exciting stories in American history is that of how the Indian got the horse and what this astonishing innovation did to change the culture of the red men of the Plains [see “How the Indian Got the Horse,” AMERICAN HERITAGE , February, 1964]. Indian horses were, of course, of Spanish descent, the first of them almost certainly stolen by members of the Pueblo tribe whom the conquistadors had enslaved.Read more »

“… I Will Stamp On The Ground With My Foot And Shake Down Every House …”


The town of New Madrid in southeastern Missouri looks out over a treacherous stretch of the Mississippi River, studded with bars and laced with stumpy shores—a graveyard of rivercraft, and haunted. Some of the ghosts are dead dreams. Read more »

The Splendid Indians Of Edward S. Curtis

The dignified portrait, opposite, of Bear’s Belly, an Arikara Indian warrior of the eastern plains, wrapped in a bearskin, the symbol of his personal medicine—and the photographs of the other native Americans on the following pages—are a sampling of a wondrous, but almost unknown, publishing project that took one dedicated photographer-author, Edward S.Read more »

The Ordeal of Plenty Horses

Caught between two cultures, a young Sioux sought to make himself a hero—by killing an army officer

On January 8, 1891, newspapers throughout the United States headlined a tragic event in the Indian troubles rocking the Sioux reservations of South Dakota. A talented and popular army officer attempting to enter a hostile encampment to talk peace had been treacherously slain by a young Sioux warrior. The death of Lieutenant Edward W. Casey shocked and saddened his legions of friends and admirers.Read more »

Rout Of The Varmints

At the time World War I was nearing its end, I was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as an officer-instructor in light field artillery (horse-drawn three-inch cannon known as French 75’s).Read more »

The Hopi Way

Isolation ends for “the People of Peace”

Perched on the edge of a rocky mesa six hundred feet above the desert of northeastern Arizona is the Hopi Indian village of Hotevilla.Read more »

A Michigan Boyhood


First there was the ice; two miles high, hundreds of miles wide, and many centuries deep. It came down from the darkness at the top of the world, and it hung down over the eaves, and our Michigan country lay along the line of the overhang. To be sure, all of the ice was now gone. It had melted, they said, ten thousand years ago; but they also pointed out that ten thousand years amounted to no more than a flick of the second hand on the geologic time clock.Read more »

“I Was Once a Great Warrior”

The tragedy of Black Hawk, who became the eponym of a war he tried to avoid

On July 4, 1838, the people of Fort Madison, in the Iowa Territory, invited an old Sauk war chief named Black Hawk to be guest of honor at their Independence Day celebration. A wrinkled and feeble old man, he sat at their banquet table under the trees on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and listened dourly while the white men bestowed honor and friendship upon him. When his turn came Black Hawk, too, spoke of friendship, but he could not forget the past as easily as the whites. They, after all, had gained by it; he had lost.Read more »

The Last Stone Age American

As an epilogue to his forthcoming book on the archaeology of the United States, C. W. Ceram, the author of Gods, Graves and Scholars, has chosen to tell a symbolic tale—the story of lshi. Chronologically, the story is quite modern; culturally, it reaches back to the Stone Age. Mr. Ceram’s new book, The First American, will be published later this month by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. A MERICAN H ERITAGE presents his moving epilogue—the end of “a chapter m History.” Read more »