SIOUX FAMILY GROUP, BY S.W. ORMSBY.
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This photograph was made of Assiniboin and Upper Yanktonai Sioux people at Wolf Point Agency, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana, by S.W. Ormsby, 1898-99. The Assiniboin are among the least-photographed of all tribal people in the United States. This important series is one of the earliest extended collections. S.W. Ormsby, employed at the agency, was also an amateur photographer. Little is known of his life. He was at Wolf Point by 1898, when he copyrighted a few of his images. Chief Wets It, who appears in two photos of the series, traveled with his family and some friends to Omaha for the Trans-Mississippi Exposition during August-October, 1898. Wets It’s portrait by the Rinehart-Muhr studio while in Omaha appears elsewhere in this catalog. Ormsby's series at Wolf Point Agency was made either just before the Assiniboin group departed for Omaha, ca. July 1898, or in the summer following their return. Many of these photographs were not properly fixed, and so are sometimes light and somewhat discolored. Nevertheless they are rare and important.
7 7/8 x 5- inch toned gelatin silver print. The woman at center stands within the entrance to their canvas-covered tipi. The oblong door which usually covers this opening has been untied and sits on the ground. The reverse side of this door is seen, a rare view documenting construction details of one of the most-common of Plains Indian implements, but which only rarely has survived in museum collections.
The tripod at right overspreads the ash pit where cooking was done, outside in good weather. Ormsby seems to have taken advantage of the “afternoon break” during the festivities to photograph some of his acquaintances. The man wears a decorated, ceremonial breechcloth and holds a “coup stick” probably carried during the dancing; but he has doffed the rest of his powwow outfit during lunch.
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- Reference #
- Fine Art
- S.W. Ormsby
- Country of Origin
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- Print is clean but a bit light.