Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Scotland: Buffalo Bill's Wild West came to Scotland twice in 1891-1892 and again in 1904.
The winter season at the East End Industrial Exhibition Buildings in the Dennistoun district of Glasgow, from 16th November to 27th February 1892, came at the end of the show's initial format as "Wild West" pure and simple. It followed hard on the heels of the previous winter's Ghost Dance trouble, which had notoriously culminated in the Wounded Knee massacre. Twenty-three Indian prisoners of war from that conflict were released from incarceration at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, into the custody of Colonel Cody, otherwise known as "Buffalo Bill", on condition that they take part in the 1891 tour. Of these, seventeen were still with the show when it reached Glasgow. A total of fifty or so Natives were with the show, the balance having enlisted at Pine Ridge.
Foremost among the prisoners of war (POWs) were Kicking Bear and Short Bull, both of whom had earlier been selected to travel to Nevada to meet with the "Messiah", a Paiute medicine man named Wovoka. Both had played leading roles in disseminating the Ghost Dance in the Sioux reservations of South Dakota and Kicking Bear, a first cousin of Crazy Horse, directed the fighting which erupted during the days which followed Wounded Knee.
Six nights a week for fifteen weeks, Buffalo Bill played to crowds of up to 7,000 and introduced all the standard conventions of the emerging Western frontier. It was an entertainment sensation, inconceivable even by 21st century standards.
The show, as Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World, returned to Scotland in 1904. There were twenty-nine Scottish venues on a major tour of Great Britain, most of them for one day only. The major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, however, were accorded a full week each. Glasgow, in particular, reinforced its status as one of the spiritual homes of the Wild West--the seating accommodation had to be extended and thousands were turned away. For the rest of his life, Buffalo Bill had frequent occasion to recall Glasgow with affection, stating that with the single exception of Chicago during the 1893 World's Fair, it had been where he had done his best ever business.
Blish, Helen and Amos Bad Heart Bull. (1968). Pictographic History of the Oglala Sioux. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Dennistoun Photo Company, Tom F. Cunningham collection.
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|Author:||Cunningham, Tom F.|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2014|
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