Portraits of Buffalo Bill's "Show Indians"

Charging Thunder

Photographer Gertrude Käsebier received permission from Buffalo Bill Cody to photograph the native tribes people in his Wild West Show. This collection, from the Library of Congress, is wonderful.

From The Vintage News:

Many of the “Show Indians” were Oglala Sioux from the Pine Ridge Agency, and welcomed the opportunity to travel with Colonel Cody. Native American performers and their families were able to free themselves for six months each year from the degrading confines of government reservations where they were forbidden to wear tribal dress, hunt or dance. Show Indians were allowed to wear traditional clothing then forbidden on the reservation, and lived in the Wild West’s tipi “village”, weather permitting, where visitors would stroll and meet performers. When not performing, Native Americans were permitted to freely travel by automobile or by train, for sightseeing or visiting friends. Interpreters translated for the Native American performers inside and outside the Wild West camp. Show Indians agreed to obey the rules and regulations of the Wild West Company and Indian Police were organized to enforce the rules. The number of police chosen depended on the number of Indians traveling with the show each season, a usual ration being one policeman for every dozen Indians. Indian policemen selected from the ranks of the performers were given badges and paid $10 more in wages per month. Chiefs Iron Tail and Short Man were the leaders of the Indian Police in 1898.

American Horse, and wife

American Horse, and wife American Indian

Holy-Frog-left-and-Big-Turnips

Plenty-Wounds2

Many more photos at The Vintage News

(Thanks Becky Lou!)