Acee Blue Eagle was a Pawnee-Creek artist, poet, dancer, teacher, and celebrity. The papers relate to both Blue Eagle's personal and professional life. Also included are some materials of Blue Eagle's friend Mae Abbott and a collection of art by other Indians.
Scope and Contents:
This collection reflects the life and work of Acee Blue Eagle, internationally famed Indian artist of Oklahoma. Identified for his brilliant paintings of tribal ceremonies, legend and dance, Blue Eagle's work is represented in numerous private collections and museums both in this country and abroad.
A portion of the papers contains correspondence. Fan mail written by school children to Chief Blue Eagle of the Chief Blue Eagle television program is included. Letters regarding Blue Eagle's participation in Indian festivals and events, art shows and exhibitions, speaking engagements on Indian life and culture are found in the collection. Personal correspondence is included; most frequent correspondents are Devi Dja, Mae Abbott, and Charles E. Pond. There are approximately 100 letters from Devi Dja, approximately 90 to or from Mae Abbott, and approximately 36 from Charles E. Pond. Some letters addressed to these individuals from other friends and acquaintances are also within this collection.
Photographs comprise a large portion of the Blue Eagle collection. Included are not only portraits of the artist himself and photographs of his art work, but a large number of prints of Blue Eagle in full costume and other Indians engaged in tribal ceremonies, identified by tribe, whenever possible. Photographs of Mae Abbott, Devi Dja and the latter's Balinese dance troupe are identified. A file of negatives is arranged in the same subject order as the prints. Newspaper and magazine clippings regarding Blue Eagle's work and activities are also included in the collection. These clippings have not been arranged. In addition, Mae Abbott's recipes and notes for her cookbook, wood blocks, greeting cards and other miscellaneous publications can be found in the collection. These items have been sorted but not arranged.
Within the collection are also over 600 pieces of artwork. A good number are by Blue Eagle while most are by other Native artists. Artists whose are work are represented in the collection include Fred Beaver, Harrison Begay, Archie Blackowl, Woodrow Crumbo, Allan Houser, Ruthe Blalock Jones, Quicy Tahoma, Pablita Verde, and members of the Kiowa Five (Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Stephen Mopope, Monroe Tsatoke).
The collection is arranged into six series: 1) Personal; 2) Collections; 3) Artwork; 4) Television; 5) Correspondence; 6) Photographs.
Biographical / Historical:
Acee Blue Eagle was an artist, poet, dancer, teacher, and celebrity. Born Alex C. McIntosh in 1907, Blue Eagle attended Indian schools in Anadarko, Nuyaka, and Euchee, Oklahoma, and the Haskell and Chilocco Indian schools. Advanced study came at Bacone Indian College and the University of Oklahoma. At the latter, he studied with Oscar B. Jacobson. Privately he studied with Winold Reiss. Discrepancies exist in the records regarding his early life: born in either Anadarko or Hitchita, Oklahoma; he's cited as both Pawnee-Creek and 5/8 Creek without any Pawnee blood; his mother is either Mattie Odom, the first wife of Solomon McIntosh or Ella Starr, McIntosh's second wife.
A prolific painter who, for the sake of authenticity, carried out research in libraries and museums, Blue Eagle was an outstanding American Indian artist of the 1930s-1950s. His paintings hung in many exhibits, including the Exposition of Indian Tribal Arts, 1932-1933; International Art Exhibition of Sport Subjects at Los Angeles, 1932; Chicago Century of Progress Exposition, 1934; a one-man show at the Young Galleries in Chicago; National Exhibition of Art at the Rockefeller Center in New York, 1936; a one-man show at the Washington, D.C., Arts Club, 1936; Museum of Modern Art, 1941; Northwest Art Exhibition at Spokane, Washington, 1944; a one-man show at the Gilcrease Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1953; An Exposition of American Indian Painters in New York, 1955; and a one-man show at the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, 1957. Between 1946 and 1965, over fifty galleries hung his paintings. Some pieces are among the permanent holdings of many institutions.
In 1934, Blue Eagle joined the Work Projects Administration (WPA) Public Works of Art Project, painting murals in public buildings. In 1935 at Oxford University, he participated in a program of the International Federation of Education and lectured on Indian art. A tour of Europe followed. He taught at Bacone Indian College from 1935-1938 where he founded the art program and became Director of Art. He also taught at the University of Kansas extension division in 1949 and Oklahoma State Technical College beginning in 1956. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Force; and, following the war, he spent a few years attempting to get into the movies. During 1946-1952, he was married to his second wife, a famous Balinese dancer, Devi Dja, and became involved in her career, an involvement that was briefly reflected in his art. However, Dja and Blue Eagle divorced and Blue Eagle lived with Mae Wadley Abbott for the last years of his life. During the 1950s, he had a television show for children on a Tulsa-Muskogee station. Acee Blue Eagle died on June 18, 1959 of a liver infection.
Martindale, Rob. Muskogee Paying Tribute to Blue Eagle. Biographical/Genealogical data, Box 1, Acee Blue Eagle Collection, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
West, Juanita W. 1967. Acee Blue Eagle: A.C. McIntosh. Biographical/Genealogical data, Box 1, Acee Blue Eagle Collection, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
1907 -- Born August 17, 1907 on the Wichita Reservation, north of Anadarko, Oklahoma
1928 -- Graduated Chilocco High School
1929-1934 -- Attended Bacone College, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Tech
1935 -- Toured United States and Europe giving lecture-exhibition program, "Life and Character of the American Indian"
1935-1938 -- Established and headed art department at Bacone College at Muskogee
1936 -- Exhibited at the National Exhibition of Art, Rockefeller Center, New York
1942-1945 -- World War II, U.S. Air Force (Army)
1947-49 -- Free-lance work in New York and Chicago
1951-52 -- Artist-in-residence at Oklahoma Tech
1950-54 -- Conducted TV program, Muskogee, OklahomaToured U.S. West Coast exhibiting and lecturing about ways to improve TV programs for children
1958 -- Named Indian-of-the-Year by the American Indian Expostion at Anadarko, Oklahoma
1959 -- Died June 18, 1959
Other materials relating to Acee Blue Eagle at the National Anthropological Archives include correspondence in the Solomon McCombs papers, 1914-1972, and correspondence with Betty Meilink under Manuscript 2011-20.
Acee Blue Eagle's private papers and collection of paintings were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Mrs. Mae Abbott of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There are no restrictions on access.
Literary property rights to unpublished material in the collection in the National Anthropological Archives has been given to the public.
Portraits of Native American artists, craftspeople, activists, and leaders from Stephen Gambaro's photography exhibits: "The Indian, the Animal, and the Land," 1976; "Indian Artists," 1977; and "Shadows Caught: Images of Native Americans," 1984.
Individuals pictured include: Brummett Echohawk, Pawnee; Archie Blackowl, Cheyenne; Bert Seabourn, Cherokee; LaDonna Harris, Comanche; W. Richard West, Sr., Southern Cheyenne; Ada Deer, Menominee; George Watchetaker, Comanche; King Kuka, Blackfeet; Earl Biss, Crow; Larry J. DesJarlais Jr., Turtle Mountain Chippewa; Encarnacion Pena, San Ildefonso; Valjean McCarty Hessing, Choctaw; Allan Hauser, Apache; Victor H. Runnels, Oglala; Sarah McCray, Navajo; Marian Wolf, Kiowa; Dwight Billedeaux, Blackfeet; Elsie Peshlakai, Navajo; Johnny Tiger Jr., Muscogee; John Kaskaske, Kickapoo; Linda Russell, Apache-Pawnee; Stephen Gonyea, Onondaga Iroquois; Naomi and Kathy Gonyea, Seneca Iroquois; and John, Eric, and Tanya Parker, Choctaw.
Stephen Gambaro is a professional photographer and former Chief of Rehabilitation Services for the Washington, DC, government. He and his wife, a Cherokee sculptor, operate an Native American art gallery in DC. Gambaro's photographs largely depict Native friends, artists, and craftsmen whom his gallery represents, as well as his travels to Native communities around the United States.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 80-37, NAA ACC 84-19
Location of Other Archival Materials:
The exhibition catalog for "Indian Artists" in 1977 was donated with parts of this collection in 1980. It has been relocated to the National Anthropological Archives Reference Files.
Additional photographs by Stephen Gambaro can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in Photo Lot R80-33.
Jose Encarnacion Pena's painting entitled "Spotted Pumpkin Dance," collected by Gambaro for the "Shadows Caught" exhibit, can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 7429.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo lot 80-37, Stephen Gambaro photographs of Native American artists and public figures, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution