Historical Map - Tribes of the Western United States - 1837

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Reprint of map depicting the territory west of the Rocky Mountains, by Captain Benjamin Bonneville, drawn in 1836, published in 1837.

French-born Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville came to the U.S. at the age of seven with his family. Benjamin’s godfather was Thomas Paine, who paid for the Bonneville family’s voyage to America as repayment for the kindness shown to him by Benjamin’s father, a publisher in Paris. Benjamin entered West Point at age seventeen, and graduated within two years. His military career presented the opportunity to explore the American West. He requested and was granted a 26 month leave from the U.S. Military so that he might be at liberty to gather information in the territory that was then under joint occupation of the U.S. and Britain. Posing as a French fur trader, his Expedition of 1832 consisted of a party of 110 men and was financed by Jacob Astor. With 20 wagons, the expedition was the first wagon-crossing of Wyoming’s South Pass, establishing a wagon route for the pioneers who would follow their path, becoming known as the Oregon Trail. Bonneville gathered information regarding the land and people, documenting his discoveries and observations. His explorations in the West were made famous by Washington Irving’s “The Adventures of Captain Bonneville” in 1837.

Captain Benjamin Bonneville
Captain Benjamin Bonneville

The map was originally engraved and printed by S. Stiles. Tribal lands are indicated for the following tribes (note that tribal names and the English spellings of them had not yet been established):
  • Wallawallah
  • Pends Orcilles
  • Skynses
  • Too-el-i-can
  • Nez Percés
  • Shoshoco
  • Flat Head
  • Upper Nez Percés
  • Bannack
  • Shoshonie
  • Eutaw

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