May We Never Forget the Beauty that was America


So nice to be able to talk to you today. Let me begin by saying that I”ll be giving away a free ebook — or print book — today — so come on in and leave a message.

 What an age in which we live, huh?   In thinking about what to write today, I thought I might take you on a journey through the West in the 1830″s, using the medium of paintings to remember how it was almost 200 years ago.  I”ll narrate those pictures with the words of George Catlin.  The paintings are by Catlin and Prince Maximilian, both of whom toured the West in the 1830″s.

In a world of toxins in our air, in our water, and in our food, it”s almost become impossible to escape their poisons by going “rural.”  So to that end, I thought it might be good to remember how it was in the 1830″s, when the country was new and untouched by what we now call Civilization.

Off to the left here is a picture of a painting by George Catlin.  I like this one very much.  As Catlin said, “They (the Indians of the West) live in a country well-stocked with buffaloes and wild horses, which furnish them an excellent and easy life: their atmosphere is pure, which produces good health and long life; and they are the most independent and the happiest races of Indians I have met with: they are all entirely in a state of primitive wildness, and consequently are picturesque and hansome, almost beyond description.”

As Catlin goes on to say:  “Nothing in the world, of its kind, can possibly surpass in beauty and grace, some of their games and amusements — their gambols and parades, of which I shall speak and paint hereafter.”

And further:  “(they are) the most cleanly in their persons, elegant in their dress and manners, and enjoying life to the greatest perfection.  Of such tribes, perhaps the Crows and Blackfeet stand first; and no one would be able to appreciate the richness and elegance (and even taste too), with which some of these people dress…”

Catlin writes

again:  “No man”s imagination, with all the aids of description that can be given to it, can ever picture the beauty and wildness of scenes that may be daily witnessed in the romantic country…”

Let me give you another view from Catlin:  “The scenery of this day”s travel, as I have before said, was exceedingly beautiful; and our canoe was often run to the shore, upon which we stepped to admre the endless variety of wild flowers, “wasting their sweetness on the desert air,” and the abundance of delicious fruits that were about us…”

And again, from Catlin:  “Whilst wandering through the high grass, the wild sun-flowers and voluptuous lilies were constantly taunting us by striking our faces; whilst here and there, in every direction, there were little copses and clusters of plum trees and gooseberries, and wild currants, loaded down with their fruit…”

And now before I close, let me show you some of the paintings of Karl Bodmer, who had accompanied Prince Maximilian into the West.  To the left is a picture of a painting by Bodmer, one that I particulary like.  As Catlin went on to say about the West, “…to sweeten the atmosphere and add a charm to the effect, the wild rose bushes seemed planted in beds and in hedges, and everywhere were decked out in all the glory of their delicate tints, and shedding sweet aroma to every breath of the air that passed over them.”

Over to the right here is another of my favorite paintings of Karl Bodmer”s.  Again, I quote Catlin:  …we topped at the base of some huge clay

bluffs, forming one of the most curious and romantic scenes imaginable.  At this spot the river expands itself into the appearance somewhat of a beautiful lake; and in the midst of it, and on and about its sand-bars, floated and stood, hundreds and thousands of white swans and pelicans.”

I”ll close the blog for today with this beautiful picture of another of Karl Bodmer”s paintings, a painting of the camp of Gros Ventre (pronounced gro-vant).  I hope you”ve enjoyed the post today.  And I”m hoping you”ll come on in and leave a comment.  We are blessed as a country for our rich heritage — not only that of our European forefathers, but our American Indian forefathers, also.





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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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16 thoughts on “May We Never Forget the Beauty that was America”

  1. Good Morning, Kay,
    Talk about the beauty of America–I am sitting here looking at the sun coming up and hitting the 14,000ft peaks of the hi

    gh Sierra. Making it’s way to the valley floor. Everything is pink, even though the wind is starting to get a little edge to it. The bare trees are starting to get a green tinge to them and you know that Spring is coming. We just had our ‘early opener’ trout derby. That means only one thing, Trout season opens the end of April in the Eastern Sierra and everyone including their dog will be here for that and the rest of the summer.
    Hugs, Mary J

  2. Kay, these are some lovely pictures. I especially like the one that has the reflecting water in the foreground… Very tranquil… thanks for sharing

  3. Hi Kathleen O!

    You know, sometimes people ask me what inspires me — gotta say that pictures/paintings like these — along with Catlin’s descriptions do the trick. 🙂

  4. You know Connie in many ways the narrative is even more inspiring than the pictures — but I love them both. Catlin is my favorite resource. Wouldn’t it be nice if the country were still so pristine? Ah…

  5. Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures with us. We are lucky such great artists made it through the West and recorded some of its beauty and wonders before civilization changed it. It would be nice to have photographs, and we do have some from not too long afterwards, but these earliest renderings of this great wide land give us a special view.

    I hope the weather is cooperating where you are. It has been such a weird winter.

  6. Karen, I loved reading this. I’ve always been interested in the Indians, and had Indian grandmothers way back on both of my parents. Don’t have much info. tho, except that they told us. They weren’t always registered because of the way they were looked down on. Love these pictures. Wish I had all 17 of your
    Historical Indian Romances. That would be a treasure trove to me. As to the Gros Ventre, I was there many times when I was living in Jackson Hole Wyo. When we first moved there, we were laughed at a lot for our pronunciation of the word, but soon learned how to say it. LOL Hope to win your print book. Will cross my fingers like when I was a kid. (long ago.)
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  7. We are so blessed with the beauty of America, the culture, the stories… After working as missionaries in Central America for 9 years – they love their country as well – though I always look forward to coming ‘home!’ God Bless the U.S.A.

  8. Hi Patricia!

    Nice to seeyou here and yes, it is nice to have the pictures — and the narrative — because the narrative makes the pictures come alive, I think. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Hi Maxie!

    Iknow what you mean about the pronounciation of Gros Ventre — not at all like it looks like it should be pronounced — which is Gro — Vaunt — more of less. Thanks so much for your post. Interesting…interesting…

  10. Hi Melody!

    Working as a missionary for 9 years…wow! I bet you have some stories to tell. Like you, I may travel, but there’s nothing like coming home. Thanks for your post.

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