1822
Costantino Beltrami , traveler extraordinary, made a major impact on the development of the American West.


Costantino Beltrami (1779-1855), author, traveler, and amateur anthropologist, was one of the most intrepid Italians to impact the development of the American West. He was born in Bergamo in 1799, was the recipient of fine education including studying various languages, law and administration, and for a time he served as a judge during the Napoleonic regime in northern Italy. At more than six feet he had an imposing physique and strength to match his appearance. Somewhat of a political exile, and evidently of a disputatious nature, Beltrami came to the United States in 1822 and in 1823 became associated with famous explorer General William Clark and Indian agent Major Lawrence Tagliaferro, who re-awakened in him his interest in Indian lore. He soon became engrossed in what life along the frontier and amidst Indian people was like. He wrote books and diaries about his experiences with the Sioux, Chippewa and Objibway peoples, their physical and psychological characteristics, their legends and customs, and their languages. He also collected a number of singular Indian artifacts. In addition, he canoed the Mississippi River to New Orleans, certain he had discovered the river's source. Although his writings were considered controversial initially, later generations were more receptive to the rich lore of ethnographic data they contain. A county in Minnesota and a lake is named in his honor.






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