Let me address my use of the term 'Indians' before moving on. I mean no disrespect to any of the North American tribes or 'First Peoples' or 'First Nation' (a political term I understand) or 'Native Americans' or Aboriginals as the Canadians have termed them. I'm simply referring to the first recorded peoples populating what is today the United States and Canada - terminology alters over time so call them what you will.
It's hard not to be fascinated and impressed by elements of the tribal warrior cultures. I recall as a child being captivated by the 1970s BBC series adaptation of Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. This was further rekindled by the Michael Mann 1992 feature film of the same name - a firm favourite to this day. More please!
I think there's something very sad about the destruction of any culture and something tragically heroic about defiance in face of overwhelming odds - which pretty well wraps up the entire story of resistance to colonialism. It's one of the principle reasons I can't generally relate to what we term 'colonial wargaming' - it's too often overwhelmingly one-sided and there's a nasty ethnic cleansing or genocidal agenda behind most of the military campaigns. It's just not for me. But I digress - so let's move on.
I maybe kidding myself but I find the French and Indian Wars different from the campaigns which came before and after when it comes to Indian involvement. For a myriad of reasons the tribes fought on this side or that and against one another on the side-lines.
All of my Indians are generally more often described in wargaming as Eastern Woodland Indians and all of mine will be those tribes who fought alongside the French Canadian forces at the Plains of Abraham. It occurs to me that they will be the first Indian toy-soldiers I have owned since a multi-part plastic Timpo set in the 1970s. So, it's been a while.
My order of battle requires a number of tribes which I've divided into skirmish units (for Black Powder) - namely two units of Huron warriors, one of Abenakis and an Algonquin war-party. My first unit is my interpretation of a Huron war-party in skirmish formation.
These sculpts are all Crusader Miniatures from their Woodland Indian ranges - which I love. This particular group are only 21 figures which I fix on round bases of three figures each. Whilst this is a small number of figures for me, they are far from simple to paint.
I collected as many images as I could for Huron warriors on the internet - not as many as you might presume there might be. I'm only relying on images which are specifically identified as Huron. They have very varied dress as well as their warpaint styles. It doesn't seem like warpaint practices were specifically delineated or categorised that I can find and there seems scope for individuality in application. General rules for colours such as red and black and their meanings are understood which I won't repeat here.
It doesn't appear that there was a great difference between tribal practices - so to the untrained eye (my eye included) you'd be hard pressed to identify an Algonquin from a Huron at a particular time in history. Nevertheless, my reliance on only images of Huron when painting Hurons and Abenakis when painting Abenakis warriors may bring out differences if they are present.
My first challenge is that Indians warriors are highly individual and highly ornamented fighters. So, these 21 figures are like painting 60 regulars as far as effort and attention to detail is concerned. My first hurdle was interpreting the head-dress of these sculpts. On a close examination there were two styles which I have divided into a short war-bonnet and a porcupine or similar 'roache'. My difficulty with the roache head-dress interpretation was I couldn't find any exact images which shows a roache like they are depicted on the figures. In other words I have interpreted the sculpts as depicting what I think are roaches. All of my roaches have natural brown roots with red dyed tips.
All loin cloths I have seen are either red or blue with little divergence. Everything seems to be decorated from the moccasins to the multi-coloured trim on leggings. I can see now why most people appear to wargame Native American armies at skirmisher level.
A note on the sculpts themselves. I love the animation and the detail but they have particularly squinty eyes and if you paint eyes (like I do) they are a pain. Also, the tomahawk handles are way too think - like a tree trunk.
I went for muted (washed) war-paint which was fun to do. Every image I found depicting arm bands and body jewelry was silver - so mine are also. As a final touch I decided to experiment with a gloss/sheen lacquer coat on the skin of the bare chested warriors to show them sweating in battle and try to bring a bit more to life. I had to mix gloss with matte finish for this as I had no satin and may have overdone it. Again, I'll finish the bases when I get back to Oz.
Better get back to those Romans.