Short Man, Sioux Indian

In 1898 New York photographer Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934) embarked on a deeply personal project, creating a set of prints that rank among the most compelling of her celebrated body of work. Käsebier was on the threshold of a career that would establish her as both the leading portraitist of her time and an extraordinary art photographer. Her new undertaking was inspired by viewing the grand parade of Buffalo Bill's Wild West troupe en route to Madison Square Garden for several weeks of performances.
Käsebier had spent her childhood on the Great Plains, and retained many vivid, happy memories of playing with nearby Native American children. She quickly sent a letter to William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917), requesting permission to photograph in her studio the Sioux Indians traveling with the show. Within weeks, Käsebier began a unique and special project photographing the Indian men, women, and children formally and informally. Friendships developed, and her photography of these Native Americans continued for more than a decade.
Short Man is photographed seated, presumably in the middle of the studio, with a view of the wall and framed photographs in the background, about 1898. In full war bonnet, or feather headdress, and bone breast-plate, Short Man sits wrapped in a blanket, holding a war club and wearing a vest with a star, possibly an Indian police badge for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The chiefs and leaders of Buffalo Bill's Indian Police were responsible for overseeing all Native Americans traveling with the show and received slightly more pay than other Indians.
Currently not on view
Date made
ca 1898
Kasebier, Gertrude
Physical Description
platinum print (overall production method/technique)
paper (overall material)
overall: 14.7 cm x 11.3 cm; 5 13/16 in x 4 7/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Mina Turner
Native Americans
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gertrude Kasebier
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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