DescriptionW. S. Soule, Photograph of Indian "Big Bow" Kiowa, ca. 1870s. William S. "Will" Soule made his way west in 1867. At age 29, he was a wounded Civil War veteran looking for a way to improve his health. Upon his arrival at Fort Dodge in Kansas, he clerked in trader John E. Tappin's post store. When Soule left for the west, he brought along equipment for landscape and portrait photography. He was acquainted with photography through several means: his employment, after his injury, with a photographic gallery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; and his brother, John P. Soule, who established the Soule Photographic Company in Boston before the Civil War. Soule's photograph of a scalping victim taken near Fort Dodge became his first published work. An engraving was made from his photograph, and it appeared in the January 16, 1869 issue of Harper's Weekly. Soule left Fort Dodge for Camp Supply, Indian Territory, in the spring of 1869, and arrived in Fort Sill, Indian Territory, in early 1870s. Fort Sill was a military headquarters and Indian agency for several tribes, including the Kiowa, Wichita, and Comanche. Most of Soule's Indian portraits were taken at or near Fort Sill, and they dated between 1870 and 1874. Soule returned to Boston in late mid 1870s, and partnered with W. D. Everett in the photographic business. His brother John P. Soule secured copyrights for many of the Indian portraits through the Library of Congress. Soule died in 1908.
Big Bow's high rank was indicated by the fact that his leggings were fringed with human hair. He took part in raids into Texas and New Mexico during the 1860s and led one against the Ute's in southern Colorado in the summer of 1869. Although he reportedly was an accomplice at the Salt Valley attack on May 17, 1871, he evaded arrest at Fort Sill. With his friend and fellow chief White Horse he staged the attack on the government wagon train at Howard's Wells on April 20, 1872, and the attack on Abel Lee and his family near Fort Griffin on June 9. Thomas Battey, a Quaker missionary, stated that Big Bow has probably killed and scalped more white people than any other living Kiowa. later recalled Big Bow's "treacherous and ferocious countenance." At the outbreak of the Red River War in June 1874, Big Bow attempted to talk the Kiowa war faction, led by Lone Wolf and Maman-ti, into staying holed up in the canyons along Elk Creek. But when Maman-ti's "medicine" predicted complete safety for the group in Palo Duro Canyon, they voted to go there. Big Bow thus participated in the siege of Lyman's wagon train on September 9-14.
Cabinet card of Big Bow (Zepko-Eete) Kiowa taken at Fort Sill, Indian Territory by William Soule, imprint verso. This Indian Warrior has a peace medal around his neck sitting in Soule's studio. Measures approximately 4.25" x 6.50".
Condition: Fine, Light soiling on mount, very good contrast.
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