1843 Tuko-see-mathla, a Seminole Chief Hand-Colored Lithograph

This is a striking lithographic portrait of Tuko-see-mathla, a Seminole Chief, from McKenney and Hall’s three-volume work Indian Tribes of North America. This portrait was printed in 1843. It was published by Daniel Rice & James G. Clark out of Philadelphia.

Tuko-see-mathla was a Seminole chief. He once saved a number of white men from being killed after they had been taken prisoner. When he supported the plan to move the Native Americans west he was killed by dissenting Seminoles. The Seminole are a Native American tribe originally from the land of present day Florida. Today, they principally live in Oklahoma with a minority in Florida, and comprise three federally recognized tribes: the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, as well as independent groups.

The lithograph was first printed as a part of Indian Tribes of North America, which has long been celebrated for its faithful and conscientious portraits of Native Americans. The lithographs in the book are based on paintings by the renowned artist Charles Bird King. The War Department employed King to paint the Indian delegates visiting Washington, forming the basis of the War Department's Indian Gallery. Most of King's original paintings were subsequently destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian. As such, their appearance in McKenney and Hall's magnificent work is our only record of the likenesses of many of the most prominent nineteenth century Indian leaders.

Thomas McKenney spent six year as the Superintendent of Indian Trade; during his tenure he became increasingly concerned for the survival of the Western tribes. McKenney observed calculating individuals take advantage of the Native Americans for profit and his vocal warnings about their future prompted President Monroe to appoint McKenney to the Office of Indian Affairs. As the first director, McKenney was tasked to improve the administration of Indian programs across various government offices.

In the summer of 1829, McKenney took his first trip to Lake Superior for a treaty with the Chippewa, opening mineral rights on their land. In 1827, he journeyed west again for a treaty with the Chippewa, Menominee, and Winebago in the present state of Michigan. His journeys provided an unparalleled opportunity to acquaint himself with Native American tribes and leaders. When President Jackson dismissed him from his government post in 1830, McKenney was able to turn more of his attention to his grand publishing project, the Indian Tribes of North America. Within a few years, James Hall, a lawyer who had written extensively about the West, joined him. McKenney and Hall saw their work as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of what they feared was a rapidly disappearing culture. The book was published in three volumes, from 1836 to 1844.


Overall very good condition for age. Some discoloration on the outer margins. The print still retains excellent and bright colors. Framed according to the highest conservation standards.

“Drawn Printed & Coloured at the Lithographic & Print Colouring Establishment, 94 Walnut St. Phila" and "Entered according to act of Congress in the Year 1843 (and 1842), by James G. Clark, in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania."

Framed dimensions: 27.75" H x 23.5" W x 1.75" D

Related Items