October 30, 2008

DIGGER - I got possible lead on this bottle. It could be a Maine Indian Medicine Bottle by virtue of the word KA-CHIT-KA-BI. A friend of mine (History Teacher in NYC read your blog and started researching today. He came up with the following:

12/4/2008 FROM JOHN SCHWARTZ IN NY: I found your strange little bottle “Nicolar’s - K’chit-ka-bi for Canker in all Forms and Bleeding of Itching Piles” very interesting and so I did some research I cannot without any certainty tell you much about your little bottle, but perhaps I can provide you with some clues which can guide you to further research which might lead you to something or someone who might be able to help and if nothing else, it will add a little interesting Maine history to your collection of memory data.

1.- The term “K’CHIT-KA-BI’ a.- This is a Native American term coming from the language of the Penobscot Nation of Maine b.- the term refers to “The Great Medicine Water” which is a short walk from the shore of “Kars-Koke” (which is today known as Casco Bay ) in the direction of the setting sun. c.- There is a reference to this term in a book, written in 1893, by Joseph Nicolar of Maine – originally, the book, entitled “Life and Traditions of the Red Man” was self-published, but there is a evidence/notations in literary circles that the book also had a direct association with with a publisher firm in Bangor, Maine called : C.H. Glass and Company d.- According to an article found on Maine Historical Society On-Line Store (http://www.mainehistorystore.com/liandtrofjon.thml) – written by Nicolar’s grandson, Charles Norman Shay: “Self-published in 1893, Joseph Nicolar’s “The Life and Traditions of the Red Man” told the story of his people from the first moments of creation to the earliest arrivals and eventual settlement of Europeans. This was one of the few sustained narratives in English composed by a member of an Eastern Algonquian-speaking people during the nineteenth century. At a time when native Americans’ ability to exist as natives was imperiled, Nicolar wrote his book in an urgent effort to pass on penobscot cultural heritage to subsequent generations of the tribe and to reclaim Native Americas’ right to self-representation. The extraordinary work weaves together stories of Penobscot history, pre-contact material culture, feats of shamanism and ancient prophecies about the coming of the white man. Note : Charles Norman Shay, Nicolar’s grandson, has produced a video companion to Nicolar’s book, the story of his grandfather’s life, called “Life and Traditions of Joseph Nicolar.” The video is available for $9.95 from the Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland , Maine 04101 – telephone : (207)-774-1822 Note : Daniel – I did some research and Charles Norman Shay, age 61, presently lives in Old Town , Maine – his home telephone number is - perhaps he would know something about the bottle which might have been issued to honor his grandfather or perhaps was made in a glass shop or by a druggist who was a member of the Nicolar family

2.- Old Town is located north of Bangor and then a short distance northeast of Orono

3.- Who was “JOSEPH NICOLAR” a.- Joseph Nicolar was born in present-day Maine in the year 1827 b.- He was the grandson of the Penobscots’ most famous shaman-leader, Old John Neptune c.- He was an important member of the Penobscot Nation during the mid to late 1800’s serving as one of the leading elders of the Penobscot Nation d.- Joseph was considered the foremost experts on Penobscot Folk Lore and Traditions and was known for his outstanding oral interpretations about those topics and most other aspects of “Penobscot Life and Ways” e.- He served eight years/terms (1859,1860,1865,1873,1881,1885,1889,1893) as the Penobscot Tribal Representative to the Maine Legislature f.- In 1893, he operated a small printing service in Bangor, Maine g.- In 1893, he self-published (possible later publisher was C.H. Glass and company, Bangor, Maine ) the literary acclaimed book entitled “The Life and Traditions of the Red Man. ” His work has often been cited especially his text about : “The Natives Americans Discover Europeans” cited below: “…exciting news was brought from the extreme north to the effect that the white man’s big canoe had come, and had landed its people who are still remaining on the land…and have planted some heavy blocks of wood in the form of a cross. These people are white and the lower part of the faces of the elder ones are covered with hair, and the hair is in different colors, and the eyes are not alike, some have dark while others have light colored eyes, some have eyes the color of the blue sky. They have shown nothing only friendship they take…[our] hand in their own and bow their heads down and make songs in the direction of the stars; and their big canoe is filled with food which they eat and also give some to those that come to them and made signs of friendship. “ h.- Joseph Nicolar died, in Maine , in 1894 Note: In June, 2007, The book was reissued under the title “The Life and Traditions of the Redman.” The book was edited, annotated an introduced by Annette Kolodny and it was published by the Duke University Press in Durham , North Carolina . It is listed with the Library of Congress under the ISBN: 9780822340096. It is listed with the American Indian, national Museum under the call no. E99 P5-N54-2007 – Barcode : 39088013199989 a.- in this updated copy of the book, written by Joseph Nicolar, there appears the notation…”a short walk from the shore of Kars-koke [ Casco Bay ] in the direction of the setting sun. This great medicine water was called “K’chit-ka-bi.” Note: Barnes and Nobles sells a copy of the book “The Life and Traditions of the Red men (1893)” – ISBN: 9780548948590 – 150 pages – published 2008 by Kessinger Publishing Company - $26.95

Note: Annette Kolody of the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, has published an article in which appears information or reference to Joseph Nicolar. The article, entitled “American Indian Culture,” was published in 2008 by the American Indian culture and Research Journal, UCLA American Indian Studies Center – ISBN: 0161-6432 Vol 32 No.1/June2008 – pages 21-34 – online -3- Possible clues: 1.- If the bottle was named “Nicolar” to honor the man, then one would assume that the bottle would have been made after 1893 when his famous book was published or 1894 when he died 2- It appears that the Penobscot Nation and the family of Nicolar were centered or lived in the region near Bangor a.- he owned a printing shop there b.- his book was published there c.- his grandson, Charles Norman shay lives in Old town, a short distance just north of Bangor therefore it might be good for you to make a list of all the glass making concerns, circa 1890’s, in that area and investigate them as possible sources for the bottle’s production, guess it would be most likely that a bottle honoring Joseph Nicolar or sold by someone named Nicolar (possibly a relation) would have been manufactured locally a.- the reason why I would infer that there is a relationship of the canker medicine and a member of the Penobscot nation is the reference on the bottle itself “K’chit-ka-bi” – a Penobscot term and one cited in Joseph Nicolar’s great book which must have been a source of pride and joy for members of the Penobscot Nation 3.-