Jim Beckwourth Mountain Man T-Shirt

$50.00

This Jim Beckworth Mountain Man t-shirt is to honor this amazing American National who was a Chief of the Crow Nation, author, and entrepreneur. Comes in most sizes.

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James Pierson Beckwourth, born James Beckwith and generally known as Jim Beckwourth (April 26, 1798[1] or 1800 – October 29, 1866 or 1867), was an American mountain manfur trader, and explorer. Beckwourth was also famously known as “Bloody Arm” because of his skill as a fighter. He was mixed-race and born into slavery in Virginia. He was freed by his white father (and master), and apprenticed to a blacksmith so that he could learn a trade.

As a young man, Beckwourth moved to the American West, first making connections with fur traders in St. Louis, Missouri. As a fur trapper, he lived with the Crow Nation for years. He is credited with the discovery of Beckwourth Pass, through the Sierra Nevada (U.S.) Mountains, between present-day Reno, Nevada, and Portola, California, during the California Gold Rush years. He improved the Beckwourth Trail, which thousands of settlers followed to central California.

The trapper narrated his life story to Thomas D. Bonner, an itinerant justice of the peace. The book was published in New York City and London in 1856 as The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth: Mountaineer, Scout and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians.[2] A translation was published in France in 1860.[3]

Early historians of the Old West originally considered the book little more than campfire lore. It has since been reassessed as a valuable source of social history, especially for life among the Crow, although not all its details are reliable or accurate. The civil rights movement of the 1960s celebrated Beckwourth as an early African-American pioneer. He has since been featured as a role model in children’s literature and textbooks.

In 1824 as a young man, Beckwourth joined Gen. William Ashley‘s Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He worked as a wrangler during Ashley’s expedition to explore the Rocky Mountains. In the following years, Beckwourth became known as a prominent trapper and mountain man. He worked with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and was an Indian fighter. He was well known for telling tales about his adventures.

In July 1825, rendezvous, trapper and colleague Caleb Greenwood told the campfire story of Beckwourth’s being the child of a Crow chief. He claimed Beckwourth had been stolen as a baby by raiding Cheyenne and sold to whites. This lore was widely believed, as Beckwourth had adopted Native American dress and was taken by some people as an Indian.

Later that year, Beckwourth claimed to have been captured by Crow Indians while trapping in the border county between the territories of Crow, Cheyenne, and Blackfoot. According to his account, he was mistaken for the lost son of a Crow chief, so they admitted him to the nation. Independent accounts suggest his stay with the Crow was planned by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to advance its trade with the tribe.[5] Beckwourth married the daughter of a chief, and may have had multiple wives. (Marriages between Native Americans and fur trappers and traders were common for the valuable alliances they provided both parties.)

For the next eight to nine years, Beckwourth lived with a Crow band. He rose in their society from warrior to chief (a respected man) and leader of the “Dog Clan”. According to his book, he eventually ascended to the highest-ranking war chieftaincy of the Crow Nation.[6] He still trapped but did not sell his or Crow furs to his former partners of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Instead, he sold to John Jacob Astor‘s competing American Fur Company. Beckwourth participated in raids by the Crow on neighboring nations and the occasional white party. Sometimes such raids escalated to warfare, most often against bands of their traditional Blackfoot enemy.

By 1848 and the start of the Gold Rush, Beckwourth went to California. He first opened a store at Sonoma. He soon sold up and went to Sacramento, then a boomtown close to the mines, to live as a professional card player.

In 1850, Beckwourth was credited with discovering what came to be called Beckwourth Pass, a low-elevation pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountain chain. In 1851, he improved what became the Beckwourth Trail, originally a Native American path through the mountains. It began near Pyramid Lake and the Truckee Meadows east of the mountains, climbed to the pass named for him, and went along a ridge, between two forks of Feather River, before passing down through the gold fields of northern California, and on to Marysville. The trail spared the settlers and gold seekers, about 150 miles (240 km) and several steep grades and dangerous passes, such as Donner Pass.

By his account, the business communities of the gold towns in California were supposed to fund the making of the trail. However, when Beckwourth tried to collect his payment in 1851 after leading a party through, Marysville had suffered from two huge fires and town leaders were unable to pay. (In 1996, in recognition of his contribution to the city’s development and of the outstanding debt to him, the City of Marysville officially renamed the town’s largest park as Beckwourth Riverfront Park.)

Beckwourth began ranching in the Sierra. His ranch, trading post and hotel, in today’s Sierra Valley, were the starting of the settlement of Beckwourth, California. In the winter of 1854/55, the itinerant judgeThomas D. Bonner stayed in the hotel, and on winter nights Beckwourth told him his life story. Bonner wrote it down, edited the material the following year, and offered the book to Harper & Brothers in New York. The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth was published in 1856.[2] According to the contract, Beckwourth was entitled to one half of the proceeds, but he never received any income from Bonner.

He returned to the Crow village, where he died in 1867 of natural causes.  Beckwourth’s body was placed on an elevated platform in the traditional funerary custom of the Crow Tribe at the Crow Indian Settlement Burial Ground, LaramieAlbany County, Wyoming.

 

 

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