March 19th, 2009
This photograph was taken in the William Notman Studios in Montreal, Quebec during Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in August 1885. D.F. Barry later copyrighted it in June 1897. In the collection of D.F. Barry most of pictures are of Sitting Bull and his family. The photograph is located in the Library of Congress Prints and photographs division in Washington D.C.
To the right of the photograph is William Frederick Cody better known as Buffalo Bill. The picture was taken during the tour of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He is dressed in full cowboy regalia. He appears to be looking of into the distance.
On the right is Sitting Bull of the Lakota. He is dressed in full Lakota garb. This picture was taken during his four-month stint on Buffalo Bill’s show. During which he was paid 50 dollars a week to ride around the arena, and any money he received from autographs. He supposedly made a considerable amount of money charging for autographs.
This picture represents a stereotypical view of cowboys and Indians that has become so much a part of American culture. Mainly in the dress of both the cowboys and Indians which has been represented in plays and films ever since.
There is a lot of irony within the picture itself. Buffalo Bill made famous as a bison hunter, which lead to the destruction of the Lakota food source. Also it was portraying this great war chief as a part of circus like show. There are varying reports on why he did the show. Some say he cursed the people in audience in his native tongue. Other reports say he used this to encourage relations between whites and native Americans.
This photograph the beginning of the archetype of cowboys and Indians in the united states.