Near Bismark North Dakota, Lewis & Clark meet a One-eyed Giant Indian Chief who Tried rubbing the black off of a Black Man. The French called the Giant Le Borgne, Demon, Tyrant & Monster. Explorers & Giants Part 1

Watercolor 1908 painting entitled 'YORK' of Le Borgne, the one-eyed giant Minnetaree Chief trying to rub the black off of York, a black man with Lewis & Clark.  The Painter may have only read Lewis & Clark's Journal.  The French described him as a one-eyed giant monster.

Watercolor 1908 painting entitled ‘YORK’ of Le Borgne, the one-eyed giant Minnetaree Chief trying to rub the black off of York, a black man with Lewis & Clark. The Painter may have only read Lewis & Clark’s Journal. The French described him as a one-eyed giant monster.

[Journal date entry–Springtime]  The morning cloudy and cool, the wind from the north. the grand chief of the Minnetarees, who is called by the French Le Borgne, from having but one eye, came down for the first time to the fort. He was received with much attention, two guns being fired in honor of his arrival; the curiosities were exhibited to him, and as he said that he had not received the presents which we had sent to him on his arrival, we again gave him a flag, a medal, shirt, arm-braces, and the presents usual on such occasions, with all which he was much pleased. In the course of the conversation, the chief observed that some foolish young men of his nation had told him there was a person among us who was quite black, and he wished to know if it could be true. We assured him that it was true, and sent for York. Le Borgne was very much surprised at his appearance, examined him closely, and spit on his finger and rubbed the skin in order to wash off the paint; nor was it until the negro uncovered his head and showed his short hair, that Le Borgne could be persuaded that he was not a painted white man.

[A French Exploerer’s] Journal is cited for this portrait of Le Borgne: “on the fourth of July we had something like a celebration of this glorious anniversary. the two principal chiefs happened to be with us: the One-ey’d and the Blackshoe. the former is a giant in stature, and if his one eye had been placed in the middle of his forehead, he might have passed for a Cyclops. His huge limbs and gigantic frame, his bushy hair shading his coarse visage and savage features with his one eye flashing fire, constituted him a fearful demon. He sways, with unlimited control, all these villages, and is feared by all the neighbouring nations. I remarked that on one or two occasions he treated She-he-ke [Big White] with great contempt. Lisa having referred to something said by that chief, ‘What,’ said the monster, ‘what! Does that bag of lies pretend to have any authority here?’ He is sometimes a cruel and abominable tyrant.  A story was related to me his cruelty, which has in it something of a more refined tragic nature than we usually meet with amongst these people.  Having fallen in love (for even Polyphemus felt the influence of the god who spares neither giants nor common men) with the wife of a young warrior, he went to his lodge during his absence, and carried her off by force.  The warrior on his return repaired to the One-ey’d demon and demanded his wife; but instead of receiving redress, was put to death, while the wretched object of the dispute was retained in the embraces of her ravisher.  The mother of the young warrior, whose only child he was, became frantic, lost her senses from excess of grief and now does nothing but go about reviling him [Le Borgne], and loading him with her curses ; yet such is the superstitious veneration (by the by it deserves a better name on this occasion) for unhappy objects of this kind [insane persons] that this chief, great as he is, dare not lay his hand on her, even should she haunt him like one of the Eumenides.”  That sounds like [the French explorer who authored this].  I took it long ago from the Analectic Magazine [early 1800s date].  On turning to [the French explorer’s date and page] something like it.  But unless the Analectic’s reviewer embellished the passage, which he places in quotation marks, he took it from p. 185 of some other edition or word of [the French explorer] which I have not seen.  However, the passage is too good to cut, and I leave it with this explanation.

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~ by zamzummim on July 23, 2013.

One Response to “Near Bismark North Dakota, Lewis & Clark meet a One-eyed Giant Indian Chief who Tried rubbing the black off of a Black Man. The French called the Giant Le Borgne, Demon, Tyrant & Monster. Explorers & Giants Part 1”

  1. Reblogged this on zamzummim.

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