Friday, December 10, 2010
Canada – The Four Indian Kings
On April 19th, 2010, Canada Post began issuing a series of stamps commemorating the 300th anniversary of a painting of Four Indian Kings sent as envoys to England. The stamps, like the original portraits painted by Dutch artist Jan Verelst, show the four Indian chiefs alongside their clan ‘dodem’ (animal entity which watches over a clan). The four Indians chiefs (In 1710, a delegation of “four Kings”—three from the Five Nations Confederacy of the Iroquois and one from the Algonquin nation) were chosen by Peter Schuyler, a member of the New York Indian Commission, to make the sea voyage with him in order to request England’s assistance against the French in the New World. Schuyler had a good relationship with the Native American tribes of his region (they called him ‘Quidor’, or ‘brother’), and his status in the Commission gave him the right to negotiate with Indians. He hoped that they would be able to persuade Queen Anne to give her support to the colonies. At the same time, Schuyler hoped the visit would inspire the native tribes to be allies of the English. At least, he hoped, they would not join the French!
After the visit in 1710, Queen Anne commissioned paintings to mark the event. Interestingly, the Four Indian Kings are painted full-length, a pose normally only used for royalty or persons of distinction in the military. They were obviously warmly welcomed in England, and their visit could be considered a success. The Four Indian Kings are among the most significant documents held by Library and Archives Canada. This cover with the impressive minisheet was sent to me by Guy Dorval.