The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 2

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 2

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 2

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 2

Excerpt

James Bear's Heart was also known as Nockkoist or Nacoista. He was a nineteenth-century Cheyenne warrior-artist who began creating drawings on ledger paper while imprisoned at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, following the Red River War on the Southern Plains. Born in 1851, Bear's Heart grew to adulthood pursuing the traditional ways of his people. As a warrior, he fought with tribal allies against Euro-American encroachments on Native lands.

Bear's Heart was arrested at Cheyenne Agency, in present-day Oklahoma, on April 3, 1875, and charged as an accomplice in the killing of a EuroAmerican family. Transported to Fort Marion for imprisonment, he and other prisoners of war were placed under the guard of military officer Captain Richard Henry Pratt. Pratt eventually released the hostages from their chains, trusted them to form their own guard, and began instructing them in Euro-American ways. Provided with ledger paper, Bear's Heart was among the prisoners who created drawings depicting scenes from tribal life.

After three years at Fort Marion, he and the other hostages were given a choice of returning home or staying in the East to continue their schooling in the [white man's road.] Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the founder of Virginia's Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, had agreed to Pratt's proposal to enroll some of the former prisoners as students. Bear's Heart attended Hampton Institute from 1878 to 1881, the longest of any of the seventeen Fort Marion students who began at the school. During that period, he participated in study and work programs, assisted newly recruited Native students, served as an anniversary speaker, and continued to create artwork. Before returning home in 1881, Bear's Heart also served as color-bearer at the presidential inauguration of James A. Garfield. The warrior-artist died of scrofulous tuberculosis on January 25, 1882, at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Agency.

SEE ALSO:

Boarding Schools; Carlisle Indian School; Hampton
Institute.

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