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Lot 77 Fraternal Broadside is a great engraved broadside from 1888. Louise Harlow takes an informative journey into the Improved Order of Redmen.

A group portrait of  twelve men in Improved Order of Red Men member buckskin regalia. All wear buckskins, sashes (some with officers’ emblems), and tall feather headdresses. Most are holding clubs, tomahawks, or spears, and the back row of men comically menace their seated fellows with their weapons.

They are seated and standing three-deep, with a fake campfire in front of them. An electrical cord can be seen trailing out of the top of the campfire, and a light comes from within, suggesting a light bulb. The back row of figures hold an American flag which appears to have star design that dates this photo between 1912-1956. The men range in age from young (20-ish) to middle aged, and display various levels of interest in the photo. Few make eye contact with the lens.

From the IORM website: “The fraternity traces its origins back to 1765 and is descended from the Sons of Liberty. These patriots concealed their identities and worked “underground” to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy and its democratic governing body. Their system, with elected representatives to govern tribal councils, had been in existence for several centuries. After the War of 1812 the name was changed to the Society of Red Men and in 1834 to the Improved Order of Red Men. They kept the customs and terminology of Native Americans as a basic part of the fraternity. Some of the words and terms may sound strange, but they soon become a familiar part of the language for every member. The Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) is similar in many ways to other major fraternal organizations in the United States.”

This broadside, published in 1888 was the year of the

“Great Council fire that was kindled at

The Palmer House in Chicago, Ill.

On the 11th Corn Moon with the Great Incohonee ( Supreme Head of the Order)Ralph S. Gregory presiding.”[1]

Elections were made for many of the hierarchy including the offices of:

Great Sachem, tribal head.

Prophet; Religious Leader

Senior Sagamore, Lesser Chief

Junior Sagamore, an even lesser Chief

Chief of Records

Collector of Wampum

And

Keeper of Wampum

*

Until 1973 the membership was reserved for white men only.

The Redmen wore Native American regalia for their induction rituals.  Their lodge was a “tribe”, a lodges city was its “hunting ground”, a lodge hall was the “wigwam,” meetings were “pow wows” and “council fires” and visitors were “palefaces.”


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