Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old

Indian photo
This photo of John Smith (Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence), a Chippewa Indian from Cass Lake, Minnesota, was taken when he was supposedly at 129 years old. Sold on eBay for $29.95.

Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old


  1. Link says it was a “post card” but could still be an original print, I have some of my family from that era on postcard stock. Maybe the seller thought this was just a postcard, not an original print?  

    Great image, reminds me of the trees in Lord of the Rings. 

    1. I have some of my family from that era on postcard stock.

      Isn’t it time for a decent burial?

  2. He must have been lying about his age to pick up chicks or something, I cannot believe he’s that young. 

  3. While I don’t think it’s completely impossible for a human being to live 129 years, I think a likelier story is that Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence just lost count a few times.  Maybe more like 109 years old with error bars?

  4. looks like he had rhinophyma, though that’s rare outside of celtic/north european types of humanoids…

    edit: hold the phone, i found a pic of him at “136!”


    more info here, including how his age was roughly calculated at just under 100 when he died:


    lol @ his name “translated into English as “Sloughing Flesh”, “Wrinkle Meat”, or Old “Wrinkled Meat.”

    1.  Not to say that he didn’t, but you would not need to know what ‘year of our lord’ it was when you were born to know how many years you had lived.

    2. The US Gov apparently used the Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833 as a benchmark. It was a spectacular experience and NA’s would be asked ‘how old’ they were when that occurred.

      In case you’re hard of hearing.

  5. This photo appeared in László Moholy-Nagy’s 1925 Bauhausbuch [Bauhaus book] Painting Photography Film [Malerei Fotographie Film]. I always found it to be a fairly bewildering inclusion.

  6. It’s too late for him to wear a hat when most of his adult life basking under the sun and the result is a dreadful wrinkled face. This should be avoided by limiting sun exposure up to 20 minutes max a day just to get enough vitamin D. Otherwise: skin cancer will develop or a horrible skin texture will surface.

    1. If only Doctor Oz was around to tell all those 19th century Native Americans to quit laying out at the pool.

    2. Dunno that “basking” was really the word you were looking for or, for that matter, that spending 23 hour and 40 minutes inside a teepee everyday would be a livable alternative for traditionally nomadic hunter/gatherers.

        1. All apologies, I saw Minnesota and assumed Sioux when, from the 1600s onward, the central part of the state was predominantly Ojibwe / Chippewa. And, you’re totally right, unlike the Great Plains Ojibwe, the Mille Lac Ojibwe built wigwams.

          However, the point stands – the tribe still survived through outdoor activities – fishing, hunting & gathering wild rice. And, while the wigwam is rounded in shape and covered with bark as opposed to hide, it is still a non-permanent, small dwelling unsuited for living in for 23 hours and 40 minutes out of every day.

  7. One can only imagine what Noah (of the Ark fame) looked like in the last couple hundred years of his life.

  8. This reminds me of Shirali Muslimov, an Azerbaijani man who supposedly lived to be 168. I read about him as a kid in a National Geographic article about supercentenarians, and totally bought into it because it was National Geographic and they had a lot of credibility, and hey, I was just a kid.

  9. Hmmmm… I posted a comment to this with a vague joke allusion to Spaceballs & a reference to “The Schwartz” because I thoughy Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence has a passing resemblence to the Yoda-like character, Yogurt. But the comment was deleted? Herp?

  10. This man named my Grandmother in 1912. A photo of him holding my grandmother was taken that day. He claimed to be 111 years old. And my Grandmother was 111 days old. My great grandparents had still not settled on what to name her for some reason. Upon his finding out, “John Smith” was shocked that this baby didnt have a name yet. So he named her on the spot. He named my Grandmother, Kee-We-Tah-Kee-Shig-O-Quay. She simply went by Kee-We-Tah Webster. Then she married my Grandfather, and she went by Kee-We-Tah Garside.  I grew up knowing this story, and every member of my family has this photo of Ka-be-nah-gwey-wence holding my Grandmother the day he named her.

    As the story goes, since he named my Grandmother, he felt that my grandmother now belonged to him. SO my great grandparents scooped her up and left right away.

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