c. 1891 No Neck (Tahu Wanica), Oglala Lakota, by George E. Spencer at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Spring, 1891. Albumen cabinet card.
No Neck was a son of Old Smoke, the Oglala leader responsible for plotting the assassination of the Head Chief Bull Bear in the 1840s, which caused a schism in the tribe that continues to the present day. No Neck appears here a few months following the Wounded Knee massacre. After the surrender of the Ghost Dancers to troops under Gen. Nelson Miles in mid-January, 1891, twenty-seven of the Sioux leaders, including Kicking Bear and Short Bull, were arrested and shipped east to confinement at Miles' headquarters at Fort Sheridan, in a suburb of Chicago. There, in exchange for a promise of good behavior, they were paroled into the custody of Buffalo Bill Cody, as performers in his Wild West entertainment spectacle. By early summer, they were all on their way to Cody's European tour of 1891-92, effectively deported long enough for tensions surrounding the massacre to ease.
No Neck, who had been an enlisted scout for the Army, was also a member of Cody's company, as one of the senior chiefs on the tour. This portrait was made in late-spring, as the Wild West prepared for the movement east. Note the interesting presence of the word "Wild" in the design of the beaded strip on No Neck's blanket. Apparently the full name of the company was included, each of the four words bracketed by a design of crossed-flags. He wears beaded leggings and moccasins, and a "horseback" headdress of golden eagle feathers, the trailer so long that it lies on the floor. No Neck carries a large, beaded tobacco bag, and an artistically superior pipe. The wooden stem is carved with effigy heads of a bighorn ram, bull elk, buffalo bull and the full figure of a snapping turtle. The red-stone pipe bowl is inlaid with lead cast in a pattern of four-pointed stars.
In 1894, No Neck returned to Chicago as the Wild West played through the summer beside the Columbian World's Fair. It is recounted that on one occasion, between performances, "Fifteen painted, blanketed chiefs marched up, bought tickets and solemnly mounted the painted ponies [of the merry-go-round]. When the machine started and the big calliope began to play 'Maggie Murphy's Home,' Chief No Neck held on to the bridle with both hands as his blanket floated out behind him. Then as the horses whirled more swiftly, he let go a full-throated war-cry, "Yip, yip, yi, yi yip!" The others at once took it up and the tent walls billowed..." (Nellie Yost, Buffalo Bill: His Family, Friends, Fame, Failures and Fortunes. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1979).
Dimensions: image 3 ¾ x 5 ½ inches
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