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Bead Buying Manhattan, Part 2

(The Manhattan Project II)

15 years on this story, just reprinted again. Not everyone has gotten the message.

The Full Story

Pictures That Prove Me Wrong

Corporate Barter Council Commemorates National Corporate Barter Week,

May 18-24, 1998

A headline from CNNin. The story started, "the 372nd anniversary of the first major corporate barter deal consummated on American soil. It was May 24, 1626 when Peter Minuit, a director of the Dutch West India Trading Company, bartered about $24 worth of beads and trinkets to local Indians in exchange for the island of Manhattan." The CBC celebrated by launching their website. A (somewhat belated) call clarified the situation.

In late August it was a real surprise to see that The Beads That Did Buy Manhattan Island had been donated to a museum. (English and Dutch newspaper accounts.)

And not just any museum, but the one at the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. An entire mountain is being carved to resemble the figure in front. When complete it will be 563 ft (172 m) high, taller than the Washington Monument or the Great Pyramid and 8 times the size of the Sphinx.

The Indian Museum of North America will lie at its base and a university and Medical Training Center for all Native Americans are also planned. It will be most amazing and a world treasure.

The arm is outstretched as Crazy Horse was taunted, "Where are your lands now?" He answered, "My lands are where my dead are buried."

The Crazy Horse Memorial was the dream of Korczak Ziolkowski (often called by his first name), a renowned sculptor. In 1940 he met Chief Standing Bear, who told him how Crazy Horse was stabbed in the back by a soldier at the age of 35. Standing Bear asked him to carve the memorial. After serving in WW II he turned down a government commission to create war memorials in Europe and began carving in the sacred Black Hills.

His death at 72 in 1982 didn't stop progress. His wife Ruth and their children carry on the work, which will last generations. A true monument to all Native Americans and to all people who love freedom.

Korczak with small Crazy Horse model.
The one above is 1/34th size and weighs 16 tons.

1998 marks the 50th anniversary of the first blast on the mountain.

1998 was also the dedication of the face, 87.5 ft (28.7 m) high.

Oh, and the beads?

1. "Based on my research and decades of experience in the field there is no question whatsoever that these distinctive beads were among those used to buy Manhattan," the donor was quoted as saying. He said they were, "easily identifiable because of their size, material, wound-glass production technique, rich color, age and Dutch style." He was sure they were made by Jansz Carel.

2. As proof of their origin, he reported that he had bought them from a dealer in New York. Additionally, they were strung on buckskin and for documentation he cited, "a famous sculpture on a flagpole in lower Manhattan ... and numerous other paintings and drawings...."

3. Unfortunately, New York dealers, flagpoles and a buckskin thong (which can be bought today) do not add up to proof. Jan Jansz Carel owned a bead factory, but did not run it. Beads were made in Holland in the 17th century, but wound beads were not made until the 18th. These beads are called "Dutch" (also "Dogon") by collectors, but could have been made in any of several European countries.

The upshot is:

There remains no evidence for beads being involved in the purchase of Manhattan;

2. Without evidence, no one can point to any particular beads that may or may not have been used; and 3. The beads given to the museum could not have bought Manhattan because they were not made for at least 75 years after the event.

Thanks to the administration of the Museum of the Indian of North America for their interest and cooperation, as well as to the people at the American Barter Council.

Visit the Crazy Horse Memorial web site.


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