Redbird Smith


This is an early photo and information of Redbird Smith that was sent in to me by Doug Brackett, Inv.

Dear Diane,

I am writing to you to let you know about something exciting I thought you might find interesting. It is about a portrait of a handsome young Native America.

The portrait is quite old. It has been unknown to the public for a century. It belonged to the mother of my business partner, the late Denley Willis Emerson (1918 - 2008). After many hours of research, I have good reason to suggest who the person in the image is. If it is who the evidence suggests, it could be welcomed as a cherished portrait for the Cherokee, especially the Keetoowah Nighthawk Society.

The portrait of this handsome man was tucked away in a folder with the estate ephemera of Marian 'Richards' Emerson. Young Miss Richards grew up first in Milton Massachusetts and then, as a married woman, on Fisher Hill Avenue, Brookline Massachusetts. Marian was involved with the Boston Universal Unitarian movement to help restore Native American dignity. Marian became a civic leader and secretary of the Massachusetts Indian Society (circa early 1900s to her death in 1949). The attached Owl-Emerson PDF file provides a mid-timeline reference to verify Marian Emerson's association with members of the Cherokee movement. The text states she was Secretary of the Massachusetts Indian Society i 1942.

The PDF text is a news announcement of the marriage of George Allen Owl to Miss Brunsteter. As can be understood from the text, Mrs. Emerson had a long time close association with Della Brunsteter, the newly married Mrs. Owl who's husband, George Allen Owl, was Cherokee. Mrs. Emerson is noted as being associated with Mrs. Owl's linguistic research. Mr. and Mrs. Owl were well known at the time in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington DC for their collaborative language translation of Cherokee-to-English.

After finding the Native American portrait and much research on the portrait and the Emerson family, the supporting evidence indicates the image is likely that of Chief, Robert Redbird Smith.

To confirm the visual likeness between the portrait and photos of Chief Redbird Smith, I created the attached composite JPG image titled "Native American Redbird." For the comparison I using a well known photo of Chief Robert Redbird Smith overlaid onto my portrait artifact. To further clarify their likeness, I graphed the horizontal lines between the location of their facial features. The composite demonstrates the position of their facial features precisely match.

This portrait may be a welcomed addition to Native American history because there are few if any "youth" images available publicly of the Robert, "Chief Redbird Smith."

Your comments are welcome. You may forward my message to colleagues. I'm also interested in comments from Smith Cherokee family members.

With great respect,
Doug Brackett, Inv.

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