Amazing Footage of Native Americans at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
For all the newspaper coverage, for all of the oral histories, and for all of the pulp books produced in the 19th century, I doubt anything did more to spread the image and iconography of the old west than shows like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. Although not the first Wild West show, Buffalo Bill’s travelling troupe became the most iconic as it travelled relentlessly across the United States and Europe. In fact, when I first took my then-girlfriend (who is now my wife) to Disneyland Paris – and the modern version they have of the show – back in the early 2000s I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Bill’s show had visited not only my university town, but my home town as well. It was an interesting thought that people in my sleepy little home town in Scotland had witnessed a show with such an enduring legacy. More pointedly, it occurred to me that the visit paid by Buffalo Bill and his troupe probably represented the first – and only – occasion the townsfolk came into any kind of direct contact with Native Americans outside of the literary world.
I’m not sure why the memory of that first trip to Paris came to me today, but in honour of the event I dug up some amazing silent footage of Native Americans performing at the show from 1894. I hope you enjoy this rare glimpse back into that world: