Chief Ho-To-Pi, Indian Tenor, Hollywood, California
Very good. Single sheet folded to 4 pages, 9.5" x 6.25", with half-tone photographic illustration on cover. Undated, but 1930s. Old folding creases, minor dust soiling; very good. A scarce promotional circular providing a biography and testimonials for "Chief Ho-To-Pi, our own Indian Caruso, Northern Cheyenne Indian tenor." The text claims that the Chief was born in El Reno, Oklahoma, spent his youth "roaming the opening country alone, listening to nature sounds, and humming," until at age 13 he was sent to study voice in Chicago. There he "mingled with white folk for the first time," learned to speak English, and attended the opera regularly. From there he went on to study opera in New York and Milan, made five concert tours in Europe, giving a "program of Indian songs and dances in costume," before returning to tour in the United States. Testimonials to his performance skills are provided from various colleges and newspaper notices, and a specimen program appears on the back, with offerings including "Wooing Song from Zuni," "Cheyenne Scalp Dance," "In My Canoe," and several Spanish-Californian songs. According to anthropologist Jack Rossen, however, "when the Chief died in 1973, his true identity emerged, carried in his wallet. He was George Citrulis from Athens, Greece. He was able to pass himself off as an Indian chief successfully for decades because of his dark features, and because of the 'feather bonnet tribe' stereotype that homogenized all American Indians" (Levanna, 2019, p. 30).