Andrews, Henry W. – Native American Collector

Henry W. Andrews

Henry W. Andrews was born in New York State in 1829. By 1851 at the age of 22, he is noted as a merchant, living in the boarding house of Joseph Fuller, a carpenter in Auburn, NY. By 1867-68, the Cayuga, New York directory lists Andrews associated with the firm Andrews and Ball. He married Frances V. Chase, and by the 1870 census, Andrews, still listed as a merchant, had a daughter, Frances V. Andrews (later Cameron). Sometime between 1870 and 1880, Andrews moved to Washington D. C. and began work for the Interior Department in the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a clerk. Rising through the ranks, he ultimately became a Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Northwest Indian Commission. The photograph of the Ute Treaty Delegation taken in 1880, and inscribed to Andrews from Ouray and his wife Chipeta (p4a item no. D9918000), suggests Andrews must have been good at his job, and put him in good standing for his next important posting.

The Northwest Indian Commission, created in 1886, attempted to negotiate a treaty with the Coeur d’Alene tribe in which this Plateau group would cede a large and valuable tract of land lying in the Territories of Washington, Idaho, and Montana (Kappler 1904: chapter 543, section 19). This cession, like so many others, was driven by White encroachment on Indian land. In spite of an 1873 Federal Executive Order that acknowledged the Coeur D’Alene land claim, when precious metals were discovered by pioneer farmers and ranchers in 1882, the race was on. Mining towns and claims were quickly established, ultimately claiming two-thirds of the land set aside for the Coeur D’Alene in 1873. In effort to retaliate legally, the Coeur d’Alene, along with other tribes, pressed Congress for a clear title to their domain (Dozier 1962: 4)

Andrews, in company with John V. Wright and Jared W. Daniels, became a duly appointed commissioner on the part of the United States (Kappler 1904: chapter 543, section 19) and was sent to negotiate with the Coeur D’Alene. An agreement was reached on March 23, 1887 at the DeSmet Mission in Idaho Territory, allowing the Coeur d’Alene to retain lands discussed in the Executive Order of 1873. Andrews, along with his fellow commissioners, presumably left Idaho shortly thereafter, and returned to Washington.

We believe Andrews acquired a collection of Native American items approximately a week later during a stop at Fort Bennett, Dakota Territory, from the Indian Trader, James C. Robb, who was born in Ohio in 1845, and moved with his wife, two-year old son, cousin, two servants, and ranch hand, to Fort Bennett, Stanley, Dakota Territory by 1880. Robb is noted as a Dealer in General Merchandise. Although the manuscript accession list accompanying the collection of artifacts indicates a collection date of April 1, 1885, we have no record that Andrews conducted any other business that would have placed him at Fort Bennett before 1887.

Curiously, little could be discovered about Andrews’ early or later career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A search of records at the National Archives, for example, reveals little other than a letter dated May 10, 1880 to John Wesley Powell, head of the U.S. Geological Survey, requesting a copy of the “Geological Survey of the State of Nebraska,” also copy of “Porters and Coulters Flora of Colorado” for New York congressman John Henry Camp. Other than this single piece of correspondence, our search revealed no other communication from Andrews.

Information courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc. September 2006

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