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Sioux performers at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Featured in the previous issue of this magazine [Green 2014] was a series of early lithographically printed color postcards depicting Sioux Indian Wild West show performers, possibly participants at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. This issue presents another interesting series of commercially produced postcards with Sioux subjects, all participants at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and World's Fair, held in St Louis, Missouri, between 30 April and 1 December 1904.

This important international event was attended by Indians from numerous different tribes, either as part of Colonel Frederick T. Cummins' Wild West Indian Congress or the U.S. government Anthropology Exhibition.

The Indian Congress took advantage of the absence of Buffalo Bill's show company, who were involved in a tour of Britain in 1904. It included many of the same components of Cody's show, including sham battles, trick shooting displays, and a recreation of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, with Cummins cast in the role of Custer. One of the major attractions was the presence of notorious Chiricahua Apache chief, Geronimo. The event also featured a display of Indian dwellings, including Sioux and Arapaho tipis, a Southwest pueblo village, and Kickapoo lodges constructed of elm bark and rush mats over a sapling frame. On 26 November 1904, there was even a football competition between teams from the Carlisle and Haskell Indian schools.

The official photographer for the event was William H. Rau, whose images of Indian delegates were used for a series of postcards issued by Adolph Selige Publishing Company of St Louis, probably printed in Germany. Though a highly interesting series of cards, they suffer from poor quality coloring, and several are applied with glitter.

Chief Tall Crane, Sioux, photographed by William H. Rau at the 1904 St Louis World's Fair. The card has an undivided back, and was copyrighted in 1905 by Adolph Selige Publishing Company of St Louis.

Tall Crane is dressed in his finest regalia, including a trailer warbonnet of golden eagle tail feathers, vest with multiple U.S. flag designs, patterned cotton shirt, silk scarf, and woolen trade cloth leggings with beaded strips. He holds a woollen trade cloth blanket, pipe with T-shaped catlinite bowl, and a beaded and quilled pipe bag. The applied coloring, particularly to the tips of the eagle feathers, is poorly rendered, and the card is embellished with the addition of glitter.

(right) Chief Yellow Hair, Brule Sioux, another of the Indian subjects from the St Louis World's Fair of 1904. Copyrighted in 1905 by Adolph Selige Publishing Company of St Louis, using photographic images taken by William H. Rau. He wears an eagle feather warbonnet and beaded buckskin shirt. Around his neck is suspended a medal, possibly from the World's Fair. The card is embellished with the addition of glitter.

(left) Sioux chief, Skin Cote, wearing an eagle feather trailer warbonnet, cotton shirt, cloth vest, otter fur breastplate with metal-framed mirrors, and holding a pipe, woolen blanket, and beaded pipe bag. Photographed by William H. Rau at the 1904 St Louis Fair, and published by Adolph Selige Publishing Company of St Louis. Again, the card is embellished with the addition of glitter.

Rather than "Chief Lone Wolf", as stated in the image caption, the subject of this card may be Seth Walking Bird, or Ve'kesohtameohtsestse, a Cheyenne originally from the Northern Cheyenne reservation at Lame Deer, Montana. Walking Bird settled at Pine Ridge agency, where he lived for many years, though never seemed to adopt the Sioux mode of dress. [Haberland: 89] The card, with undivided back, was published by Adolph Selige Publishing of St Louis.

Chief Bear-Goes-in-the-Wood (left) or Mato-Can-Wegna-Iyaye, (sometimes called Bear-in-the-Wood), probably photographed by William H. Rau at the 1904 St Louis World's Fair. The publisher is the Rotograph Company of New York, although the card is clearly related to the St Louis World's Fair series issued by Adolph Selige Publishing Company.

On 23rd September 1876, three months after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, this Brule Sioux . chief was one of the signatories to the Black Hills cession of 1877, signed on behalf of the Brules at Spotted Tail agency. This treaty reduced the size of the Great Sioux Reservation as agreed in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

Bear-Goes-in-the-Wood wears a hide war shirt with V-shaped bib and hairlock fringe, the lane-stitch beaded strips featuring U.S. flags; also, a pair of quilled armbands, silk scarf, and a medal, possibly commemorating the World's Fair. In his hair are two eagle tail feathers. The quality of the coloring of these, as well as the center section of the hide shirt, is particularly unfortunate, and detracts from this otherwise splendid image.

Blackhawk, another Oglala man participating in the 1904 World's Fair at St Louis. He is pictured wearing typical regalia favored by Sioux Wild West show performers, including an eagle feather warbonnet with beaded browband and silk ribbon trim, store-bought shirt and vest, silk scarf, narrow armbands--possibly brass or quillwork-and peace medal. The vertically strung bone hairpipe breastplate is of the type commonly worn by women, though occasionally worn by men of this period for use in such Wild West events. Around his waist, he wears a woolen cloth blanket, and holds a beaded tobacco bag and what appears to be a pipe stem.


Green, Richard. (2014). Sioux Performers at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, Whispering Wind 43:1.

Haberland, Wolfgang. (1986). Ich, Dakota: Pine Ridge Reservation 1909. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.
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Title Annotation:Glimpses
Author:Green, Richard
Publication:Whispering Wind
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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