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Maps of Native American Tribes

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Gallatin Indian map
Albert Gallatin. "Map of the Indian Tribes of North America about 1600 A.D. along the Atlantic; & about 1800 A.D. westwardly." Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1836. From Archaeologia Americana. 15 x 16 1/2. Lithograph by Pendleton. Original hand color. With folds as issued. Old repaired tear at right, extending about 5" into ocean. Narrow margin where attached, top right. Overall, very good condition. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, p. 255; Wheat: 417. Denver.

An important and scarce map of North America, a thematic map showing the Indian tribes of the continent drawn by Albert Gallatin, a prominent American statesman and financier who served as the Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson. Gallatin became enraptured by American ethnology during Alexander von Humboldt's 1804 visit with Jefferson. These two men of great stature soon became friends and correspondents and much of Gallatin's ethnological information came by way of Humboldt. After this visit, Gallatin began over thirty years of rigorous, ethnological study that resulted in the 1836 publication of his Synopsis of the Indian Tribes. This seminal work provided the foundation for all subsequent study on the subject and earned Gallatin the title "father of American Ethnology." Gallatin classified eighty-one tribes into twenty eight families, and eight large language groups. This map was issued to accompany Gallatin's Synopsis and it illustrates his Indian language regions, as well as the locations of smaller tribal groups. Those tribes in the east are indicated as they were about 1600, but those Indians in the west are indicated for about 1800. It was the first serious ethnological map of North America, a landmark for the subject.

Besides this scientific interest, the map has very good geographic information, being the best map of the American West for the time. The map was one of the first to mark the explorations of Jedediah Smith (1826-1827), which for the first time helped delineate the Great Basin (called here "Great Sandy Desert"). As Carl Wheat states, "Gallatin's map with its showing of Smith's route to California was an achievement, as important for the imaginary geography which its author wisely eschewed as for the items he included." Rare and historically of the first importance. $1,850


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