Originally featured in Points West magazine in Fall/Winter 2015
1904 colorized postcard of a ca. 1887 photograph of Sitting Bull
Likely the best-known American Indian of his time, the Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1885 after long attempts by William F. Cody to recruit him. As noted in the Wild West program of that year written in the hyperbolic prose of General Manager John M. “Major” Burke, the two famous western personalities greeted each other with mutual respect and awe, and a long handshake. Burke recounted, “For several seconds they eyed each other. It was a truly dramatic spectacle and entirely unrehearsed in its striking effects.”
Despite the auspicious greeting, Sitting Bull remained with the Wild West only four months before returning home. He was killed on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota just five years later. This colorized postcard, dating to 1904, is clearly based on a black and white image taken nearly twenty years before, and embellishes Sitting Bull’s “native” accoutrement.
Thumbnail caption: Sitting Bull, ca. 1887. Black and white cartes-de-visite. MS 6 William F. Cody Collection. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Strobel. P.6.38
Sitting Bull, ca. 1887; colorized postcar, 1904. MS 71 Vincent Mercaldo Collection. P.71.968
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