Eagle of Delight
Eagle of Delight (Hayne Hudjihini), painted by Charles Bird King, c. 1822
|Cause of death||Measles|
Eagle of Delight, also called Hayne Hudjihini in Chiwere (b. c. 1795 - d. 1822), was one of the five wives of Chief Shaumonekusse of the Otoe tribe in the first quarter of the 19th century. They were based in present-day Nebraska.
In 1822, she accompanied her husband with an Indian delegation of chiefs to Washington D.C., where they met James Monroe, the President of the United States. She was described by those who met her as beautiful and charming. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) commissioned Charles Bird King to paint portraits of Hudjihini and Shaumonekusse.
When Chief Mahaska of the Ioway tribe saw Eagle of Delight's portrait in winter 1836-1837 on a visit to Washington DC, and was certain that she was his mother. However, at nearby King's gallery, a copy of Eagle of Delight's portrait hung next to the portrait of Rantchewaime (Female Flying Pigeon), his mother, whom he recognized by her fan. It turned out that Mahaska was mistaken because his mother, who had died when he was four, had been a neighbor and close friend of Eagle of Delight. The two women had often dressed in similar colors, and braided their hair the same way. The copy of Eagle of Delight's portrait had added the blue forehead spot, the mark of royalty, which helped him tell the two women apart. Arrangements were made to send copies of the paintings to Chief Mahaska and to Shaumonekusse, who were pleased to have a painting of their mother and wife respectively.
Although the original portrait of Eagle of Delight was destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian Institution in 1865, a patron donated King's personal copy to the White House in 1962. The portrait now hangs in the White House Library. There is a portrait of the same subject by Henry Inman on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 756. This rare portrayal of a Native American woman, Hayne Hudjihini, Eagle of Delight—wife of Sumonyeacathee, Chief of the Otoe-Missouria people—emphasizes her distinctive beauty and bearing. She is adorned with earrings, necklaces, and a silver bracelet.