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Blue Cloud Abbey Native American Photograph Collection

In search of historical photographs to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the USGS went to the Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, S.D. The USGS uncovered 337 glass plate negatives featuring Native Americans from the late 1800s to early 1900s; however, the negatives had deteriorated almost beyond restoration. The USGS is now in the process of restoring, scanning, and printing these historical photographic records of the northern Great Plains. These photos are part of a collection of more than 50,000 images that Benedictine monks gathered as they traveled through Dakota Territory ministering to tribal communities. These photos, although taken at a later date, provide a crucial insight into the landscapes and cultures that the Lewis and Clark expedition would have encountered along the Missouri River, and they also provide a valuable historical tool to Native American tribes. A collection of 28 of these historical Native American photos are featured below.

In the past individuals were required to contact the Blue Abbey directly to obtain the images and permission to use them. The Abbey has closed and the collection is now held at the Augustana College's Center for Western Studies. Customers must now contact them at cws@augie.edu.

A group of Native American police officers from Ft. Thompson, S.D., Crow Creek Reservation. -- select to view larger image.

A group of Native American police officers from Ft. Thompson, S.D., Crow Creek Reservation.
Maza Win (Mah-zah-we) 'Iron Woman' poses in front of the Post Office at Stephan, S.D.  -- select to view larger image.

Maza Win (Mah-zah-we) "Iron Woman" poses in front of the Post Office at Stephan, S.D.
Chief Joseph Drifting Goose, Born: 1821, Died:  May 18, 1909, Crow Creek Reservation.  -- select to view larger image.

Chief Joseph Drifting Goose
Born: 1821
Died: May 18, 1909
Crow Creek Reservation.
Government employees picnic near the Agency Village at the Missouri River bottoms near Ft. Thompson, S.D.  Picture taken probably after 1910.  This same area is currently under water due to the present day Big Bend Dam reservoir.  -- select to view larger image.

Government employees picnic near the Agency Village at the Missouri River bottoms near Ft. Thompson, S.D. Picture taken probably after 1910. This same area is currently under water due to the present day Big Bend Dam reservoir.
Unidentified Native American man.  -- select to view larger image.

Unidentified Native American man
Father Ambrose Mattingly took this picture of this Native American couple from the Big Bend area of the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.  -- select to view larger image.

Father Ambrose Mattingly took this picture of this Native American couple from the Big Bend area of the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.
Maza Win (Mah-zah-we) poses with her new spouse, Opawinge 'One Hundred' on their wedding day.  Picture taken in the Post Office building at Stephan, S.D.  -- select to view larger image.

Maza Win (Mah-zah-we) poses with her new spouse, Opawinge "One Hundred" on their wedding day. Picture taken in the Post Office building at Stephan, S.D.
Native American man known as 'Shields.'  He served as the pipe carrier, healer, or medicine man for the Crow Creek Reservation.  -- select to view larger image.

Native American man known as "Shields." He served as the pipe carrier, healer, or medicine man for the Crow Creek Reservation.
A Native American man.  -- select to view larger image.

No caption available for this image.
A Native American of mixed blood who served with the Ft. Thompson police force.  Notice the Episcopalian cross on his lapel.  -- select to view larger image.

A Native American of mixed blood who served with the Ft. Thompson police force. Notice the Episcopalian cross on his lapel.
Big Tobacco, a Dance Hall Chief, circa 1900.  The U.S. Government allowed Native Americans to build halls to host tribal dances.  When tribal members wanted to hold a dance, the Dance Hall Chief would seek permission from Federal agents.  Dance Hall Chiefs would beat on a drum to communicate to tribal members the time of the dance.  The city of Yankton, S.D., featured seven dance halls from the 1890s to 1934.  Dance Halls served to preserve Native American cultural traditions.  Notice the Presidential medallion hanging from Big Tobacco's neck.  President Rutherford B. Hayes issued the medallion, which was presented to Big Tobacco.  Big Tobacco stands in front of his home, a U.S. Government-issued dwelling.  The house is located next to the Hay Hall (Grass Dance Hall).  This building was destroyed by a tornado several years after this photo was taken.  -- select to view larger image.

Big Tobacco, a Dance Hall Chief, circa 1900. The U.S. Government allowed Native Americans to build halls to host tribal dances. When tribal members wanted to hold a dance, the Dance Hall Chief would seek permission from Federal agents. Dance Hall Chiefs would beat on a drum to communicate to tribal members the time of the dance. The city of Yankton, S.D., featured seven dance halls from the 1890s to 1934. Dance Halls served to preserve Native American cultural traditions. Notice the Presidential medallion hanging from Big Tobacco's neck. President Rutherford B. Hayes issued the medallion, which was presented to Big Tobacco. Big Tobacco stands in front of his home, a U.S. Government-issued dwelling. The house is located next to the Hay Hall (Grass Dance Hall). This building was destroyed by a tornado several years after this photo was taken.
Father Ambrose Mattingly took pictures from several South Dakota Indian Reservations including the Standing Rock, Yankton, Lower Brule, and Crow Creek.  He took this picture of homesteaders in front of their prairie home near Stephan, S.D.  This type of home was quite common along with homes made of sod, or 'soddies,' among prairie homesteaders in the late 1800s.  -- select to view larger image.

Father Ambrose Mattingly took pictures from several South Dakota Indian Reservations including the Standing Rock, Yankton, Lower Brule, and Crow Creek. He took this picture of homesteaders in front of their prairie home near Stephan, S.D. This type of home was quite common along with homes made of sod, or "soddies," among prairie homesteaders in the late 1800s.
Unidentified Native American woman.  Notice in the background, the American flags serving as window coverings as well as the old saddle and blanket to the left  -- select to view larger image.

Unidentified Native American woman. Notice in the background, the American flags serving as window coverings as well as the old saddle and blanket to the left
A Native American celebration, possibly a congress, or church assembly August 27, 1909, on the Yankton Reservation near Greenwood, S.D.  -- select to view larger image.

A Native American celebration, possibly a congress, or church assembly August 27, 1909, on the Yankton Reservation near Greenwood, S.D.
A cowboy and his horse on the Lower Brule Reservation of central South Dakota.  This person may be a descendent of Black 'Buffalo Soldiers' once stationed by the U.S. Government on the reservation.  Many Native Americans today on the Lower Brule Reservation feature African American facial and body characteristics.  -- select to view larger image.

A cowboy and his horse on the Lower Brule Reservation of central South Dakota. This person may be a descendent of Black "Buffalo Soldiers" once stationed by the U.S. Government on the reservation. Many Native Americans today on the Lower Brule Reservation feature African American facial and body characteristics.
People standing in front of their home.  Perhaps the man is Native American.  -- select to view larger image.

People standing in front of their home. Perhaps the man is Native American.
A woman sits between her son and his Native American wife.  Notice the large wooden barrel.  Cattle and/or buffalo often polluted water in prairie potholes with manure.  Benedictine monks and tribal members hauled potable drinking water from the Missouri River in barrels via horse-drawn wagons.  -- select to view larger image.

A woman sits between her son and his Native American wife. Notice the large wooden barrel. Cattle and/or buffalo often polluted water in prairie potholes with manure. Benedictine monks and tribal members hauled potable drinking water from the Missouri River in barrels via horse-drawn wagons.
This 1915 photo shows a young Native American dancer in traditional Lakota dance attire complete with dance bells and feather headdress.  Note the young man's mirror stole, which originated from the days of the fur trade.  It's unusual that this man lives in a U.S. military tent called a Sibley.  When buffalo hides became scarce, the U.S. Government supplied canvas tents and canvas material to make shelters.  These tents were very warm, even in the dead of winter, if a small fire was kept constantly burning.  -- select to view larger image.

This 1915 photo shows a young Native American dancer in traditional Lakota dance attire complete with dance bells and feather headdress. Note the young man's mirror stole, which originated from the days of the fur trade. It's unusual that this man lives in a U.S. military tent called a Sibley. When buffalo hides became scarce, the U.S. Government supplied canvas tents and canvas material to make shelters. These tents were very warm, even in the dead of winter, if a small fire was kept constantly burning.
A woman poses in her best dress.  -- select to view larger image.

A woman poses in her best dress.
This Native American couple are members of the Gravatt (Grah-vaht) family near Big Bend, S.D., on the Crow Creek Reservation.  Grandsons, Frank and Lyle Gravatt, still call the Crow Creek area their homeland.  Father Ambrose Mattingly took this picture in his photographic studio on the Crow Creek Reservation.  -- select to view larger image.

This Native American couple are members of the Gravatt (Grah-vaht) family near Big Bend, S.D., on the Crow Creek Reservation. Grandsons, Frank and Lyle Gravatt, still call the Crow Creek area their homeland. Father Ambrose Mattingly took this picture in his photographic studio on the Crow Creek Reservation.
An unidentified member of the tribal police sits for a picture in the photographic studio of Father Ambrose Mattingly in Stephan, S.D.  -- select to view larger image.

An unidentified member of the tribal police sits for a picture in the photographic studio of Father Ambrose Mattingly in Stephan, S.D.
A Native American woman and son.  -- select to view larger image.

A Native American woman and son.
A Native American woman possibly at Stephan, S.D.  -- select to view larger image.

A Native American woman possibly at Stephan, S.D.
Titled, 'Ozuye Wicasa,' - A Warrior Man.  The glass plates for this majestic image were exposed near the backwaters of the river bottoms near Yankton or Greenwood, S.D., between 1886 and 1900.  The rider's dress includes clothes worn in traditional Native American dance occasions: moccasins, a shirt appropriate for a pow-wow, or wacipi, a breastplate, and personal medicine indicating a commitment to the traditional Lakota Sacred Pipe religion.  Notice the traditional dancer's belt draped across the saddle horn.  This man most likely paused for a picture before riding his horse to a Native American dance hall.  -- select to view larger image.

Titled, "Ozuye Wicasa," - A Warrior Man. The glass plates for this majestic image were exposed near the backwaters of the river bottoms near Yankton or Greenwood, S.D., between 1886 and 1900. The rider's dress includes clothes worn in traditional Native American dance occasions: moccasins, a shirt appropriate for a pow-wow, or wacipi, a breastplate, and personal medicine indicating a commitment to the traditional Lakota Sacred Pipe religion. Notice the traditional dancer's belt draped across the saddle horn. This man most likely paused for a picture before riding his horse to a Native American dance hall.
Unidentified Tribal policeman.  -- select to view larger image.

Unidentified Tribal policeman.
Father Ambrose Mattingly used the Post Office entrance at Stephan, S.D., for many pictures due to its favorable natural lighting.  He captured this unidentified gentleman at this often-used photographic location.  -- select to view larger image.

Father Ambrose Mattingly used the Post Office entrance at Stephan, S.D., for many pictures due to its favorable natural lighting. He captured this unidentified gentleman at this often-used photographic location.
Native American man called 'High Horse' and his grandson.  This photograph is a lantern slide.  Lantern slides were produced by developing a positive image photographically, and hand painting the image with an organic dye or tinting process.  Lantern slides were sandwiched between two glass covers, one on each side, and placed in a mat.  The slides were projected in a 'Magic Lantern,' a slide projection system illuminated by kerosene or coal oil lamps.  Unfortunately, the practice of painting black and white pictures denigrates the original detail of the photographic print.  -- select to view larger image.

Native American man called "High Horse" and his grandson. This photograph is a lantern slide. Lantern slides were produced by developing a positive image photographically, and hand painting the image with an organic dye or tinting process. Lantern slides were sandwiched between two glass covers, one on each side, and placed in a mat. The slides were projected in a "Magic Lantern," a slide projection system illuminated by kerosene or coal oil lamps. Unfortunately, the practice of painting black and white pictures denigrates the original detail of the photographic print.
A gender dress code.  While Native American men wore breastplates with bones arranged horizontally, bones worn by Native American women hung vertically.  Perhaps a good analogy would be the difference between the button patterns today on male and female blouses and shirts.  This photo was taken in front of the Post Office at Stephan, S.D.  Due to the shadows in this picture, it is estimated this photo - later made into a lantern slide - was taken at or near 12 noon.  -- select to view larger image.

A gender dress code. While Native American men wore breastplates with bones arranged horizontally, bones worn by Native American women hung vertically. Perhaps a good analogy would be the difference between the button patterns today on male and female blouses and shirts. This photo was taken in front of the Post Office at Stephan, S.D. Due to the shadows in this picture, it is estimated this photo - later made into a lantern slide - was taken at or near 12 noon.


2003 National Native American Heritage Month poster
2003 National Native American Heritage Month poster -- select to view larger image.  You can right click your mouse on the large image to save the poster so you can print it.

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