Once belonging to the final King of France, Louis Philippe, these pistols were gifted to Ioway Chief, Francis White Cloud, around 1845. Chief White Cloud and a small entourage of Ioways joined American artist George Catlin on a European tour. Catlin embarked on this tour to promote his exhibit of 500 paintings of Native Americans across the capitals of Europe. This exhibit portrayed the life of Indigenous people across North America, and Catlin hoped this exhibit would become a permanent installation with the U.S. government. Crucial to the history of these gifted pistols is Jeffrey Derione. Derione was formerly enslaved by Joseph Robidoux, the founder of St. Joseph. He served as the interpreter for White Cloud and the Ioway during the tour. Derione was fluent in French, Spanish, English, and various Native American languages. Without Jeffrey Derione and his linguistic talents, this gift may not have been possible.
The story of these pistols and their gifting signify key aspects of Missouri’s cultural history. They represent both the worldly travels of the Indigenous groups local to northwest Missouri as well as the transnational and multicultural experiences of early Missourians such as Jeffrey Derione. Although these pistols served a ceremonial purpose and were not used in an actual duel, affairs of honor were fairly common in Missouri in the early years of white settlement.
Subject: Ioway; Bah-Kho-Je; White Cloud, Francis; Philippe, Louis
Contributing Institution: St. Joseph Museums, Inc.