From a Distant Country

A short story about a few Native American objects

Map of America (1670/1690) by Frederick de WitteSkokloster Castle

”They don’t trust us in any way, and we don’t trust them”, wrote Johan Printz, Governor of the colony New Sweden in present-day Delaware. He was describing the relationship between the settlers and the natives.

A Pleated Band (1643/1654) by unknownSkokloster Castle

Johan Printz had been appointed Governor in 1642. His expressed orders were to maintain a good relationship with the natives and other settlers to further the trade in the region.

A Decorative Object (1643/1654) by unknownSkokloster Castle

New Sweden encompassed parts of the territories of two native tribes, the Lenape and the Susquehannock. Most of the region was controlled by the English and the Dutch, however. The Dutch were considered the foremost enemy by the Swedes – rightly, as it turned out.

A Necklace (1643/1654) by unknownSkokloster Castle

The colony expanded rapidly under the rule of Governor Printz. But Printz’ offensive type of leadership caused increasing opposition within the community. Any form of rebellion was punished hard, however, and Printz at least once had a citizen executed for treason.

Per Brahe the Younger (c. 1650) by David BeckSkokloster Castle

The peaceful approach to the other inhabitants was not Governor Printz’ own idea. He wanted to annihilate the natives and fight the English and the Dutch. But Lord High Steward Per Brahe had more experience in the matter, being Governor General of Finland, and a mind for business. Luckily for the Lenape and the Susquehannock, Brahe had superiority over Printz.

Two War Clubs (1643/1654) by unknownSkokloster Castle

Governor Printz by force, coercion or trade obtained a number of native objects. It is noted that he had “Indian curiosities” in his own armoury. But what about the objects at Skokloster?

A Quiver (1643/1654) by unknownSkokloster Castle

There would have been several Native American objects in Sweden by the late 1600’s. After all, people like to send home souvenirs and it was important to send home “proofs” of a distant and exotic tribe.

Field Marshal Wrangel (1662) by Matthaeus MerianSkokloster Castle

The owner of Skokloster, Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel, belonged to the limited group of Governors of the Realm and might have been a recipient of such a gift.

An Indian Head Dress (1643/1654) by unknownSkokloster Castle

No Indian artefacts are noted in Wrangel’s armoury, however. The objects at Skokloster were not likely included in Wrangel’s collection of ethnographic curiosities originally.

The Wrangel Armoury (2011) by Erik LernestålSkokloster Castle

But after Printz' death in 1663 some “Indian antiques” were sent to Per Brahe. When Per Brahe died in 1680 all his possessions were inherited by his nephew Nils Brahe, who was Carl Gustaf Wrangel’s son-in-law.

Count Brahe (1696) by David RichterSkokloster Castle

And eventually, in 1701, Nils Brahe’s son Abraham inherited Skokloster and started an inventory of the house. The Skokloster armoury inventory of 1710 describes Indian artefacts for the first time.

The Castle from the Lake (2014) by Jens MohrSkokloster Castle

The "Indian antiques" are still there toady, some 300 years later.

Credits: Story

Text: G. Sandell, SHM

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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