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    From the Fitterer Family Collection

    Sioux Chief Red Shirt: His Rifle and Scabbard. Red Shirt (c. 1845-1925), an Oglala Sioux chief, was born of a white father and Lakota mother along the North Platte River in what is now Wyoming. Bright and articulate, he was destined from youth to be a leader. In 1880, as a 35-year-old, he traveled to Washington, D.C., with Red Cloud and three other chiefs as the youngest member of one of the most important of the Sioux peace delegations. He is best remembered now for his participation in Buffalo Bill's Wild West. As chief of the nearly 200 Indians with the show in England in 1887, he wowed audiences (especially women). He was tall, handsome, and intensely dignified, and Queen Victoria considered him to be a "natural prince" among men.

    Red Shirt had been raised a traditional warrior, yet though he was much photographed, there are few pictures of him with firearms. As a leading Sioux diplomat, he preferred to be shown with the pipe, his emblem of office. After leaving the Wild West, he continued to the end of his life to travel widely and to be a mediator for the Lakota people. He was quoted on the need to accommodate to and rely on the United States government, and like many Plains people, he adopted the decorative use of American flag images as totems of power and respect.

    This Winchester model 1873 rifle, SN 365297, .32 caliber, with octagon barrel, is adorned with brass-headed tacks. It shows a great deal of use with two well-worn leather-wrapped repairs on the stock and at the wrist. An interesting feature is the Stars-and-Stripes imagery etched on both side plates of the receiver. On the left are the crudely stamped or chiseled letters "USIS," presumably standing for United States Indian Service. The rifle was shipped from the Winchester factory on December 15, 1890, almost precisely the time that Red Shirt was returning from Europe and preparing to go home to Pine Ridge.

    The scabbard is brightly decorated with American flag and other motifs as well as the lettering "WF Cody's 'Wild West'" and the serial number of the above rifle. It also bears a railroad luggage label identifying it as part of the Wild West equipage.

    Please note: This gun was sold to the consignor as having belonged to Red Shirt; however, our researchers have not been able to conclusively document this connection. The only legible word on the original shipping label on the back of the scabbard is "Red." Words before and after are too faded to decipher. Nonetheless, this remains a rare and very desirable Native American-used Buffalo Bill's Wild West performance gun with terrific display appeal.

    (Lot description by Paul R. Fees)

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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