Joc-o-sot (or Walking Bear) Visits Leamington

"Joc-O-Sot" (The Walking Bear) from Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio
Image courtesy of The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC, Copyright Status: Public Domain

In the Leamington Spa Courier dated Saturday 30 December 1843, there is an advertisement for a series of lectures on Native Americans. We learn that the Mesquakie chief Joc-o-sot, or Walking Bear, was planning to visit the Leamington Royal Music Hall, where he would demonstrate some of his customs and traditions.

After participating in the Black Hawk War against the United States in 1831, Joc-o-sot had spent time leading hunting and fishing expeditions in Cleveland before touring Europe, including Leamington Spa, in 1844. Later that year he had an audience with Queen Victoria, who was so impressed she commissioned a portrait of him. Unfortunately he became ill whilst in England, and died later that year.

The …Courier advertisement reads:

The Red Indian Sac Chief JOCKOSOT

(For whose Benefit this Lecture is particularly delivered,) will appear in his magnificent Native Costume, together with his Implements of War, Canoes, &c., and illustrate the Discourse by the following Indian customs:-

The Worship of the Sun. (a superb ceremonial).

The War Festival, (with a Picturesque Dance).

The Indian’s Return from the Chase.

The Death Song at the Stake.

Scalp Scene, &c., &c.

He will also deliver a Speech in his Native Tongue, the substance of which will be given.

The event seems to have been very well received; a review in the Courier dated 6 January 1844 states ‘the Chief is a remarkably well-made man. We have seldom seen anything more picturesque and striking than the Pipe Dance. Take the discourses and exercises, all in all, they were a rich, intellectual, and artistical treat.’

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