Arts of Diplomacy: Lewis and Clark's Indian Collection

by Castle McLaughlin

Photographs by Hillel S. Burger
Foreword by James P. Ronda

"With its publication of Arts of Diplomacy, the Peabody Museum once again brings distinction to itself and the museum profession. Theirs is a seminal, expansive, and probing venture that has resulted in a handsome, readable, and profoundly significant volume."
-Oregon Historical Quarterly

When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery across the American West, they were acting as Thomas Jefferson’s emissaries to the Native American peoples they encountered along the way. In Arts of Diplomacy, Castle McLaughlin challenges conventional wisdom about the expedition and reveals it as a complex process of diplomacy, mutual discovery, and exchange. The vehicle for this analysis is the Peabody Museum’s “‘Lewis and Clark collection,”‘ a set of magnificent eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century objects long thought to be the only surviving ethnographic items acquired by the Corps.

McLaughlin and her colleagues—including scholars Gaylord Torrence and Anne-Marie Victor-Howe—conducted painstaking analyses of these buffalo robes, basketry hats, and ceremonial pipes and traced their histories from public and private collections to their probable sources among Native makers and users. With contributions by Wasco basketry artist Pat Courtney Gold, Mandan-Hidatsa community activist Mike Cross, and other contemporary Native artists, Arts of Diplomacy presents a model for how museum collections can be coaxed to tell their own vivid stories.

Castle McLaughlin is Associate Curator of Native American Ethnography at the Peabody Museum.

Published by the Peabody Museum Press and the University of Washington Press.

Signed copies available upon request.

Hardcover Price: $60.00


Paperback and Hardcover 

416 pages with 195 illustrations, 150 in color, notes, bibliography, index
8.75 x 10.75