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    Native Americans in Wild West Shows. An interesting and important group of 1891-1892 letters discussing the plight of reservation Indians and their recruitment as Wild West show performers. The first is a June 3, 1891, typed letter signed from Herbert Welsh, corresponding secretary of the Philadelphia-based Indian Rights Association to Major James McLaughlin at Standing Rock Agency. McLaughlin was a senior Indian Service Officer best remembered for having issued the arrest warrant for Sitting Bull which led to his shooting. McLaughlin was known as an advocate of helping Native Americans to adopt Eastern ways and assimilate, Welsh asks McLaughlin to comment on the accuracy of charges leveled by Welsh in a letter to the New York Evening Post regarding the propriety of allowing reservation Indians to contract for performance in Buffalo Bill's Wild West.

    The second letter is a retained copy of a June 21, 1892, typed letter to Welsh from Bishop M. Marty regarding the life of Indians in Dakota. He writes, "Travelling (Wild West) shows is not the best means to educate anyone, but the present condition of the Indians, and especially of the young men & women coming out of the schools, is such that they are better off anywhere else than at home. Without irrigation the lands west of the Missouri are unfit for agriculture and even for stockraising. Not one in a hundred is supplied with farming implements, cattle, or work-horses... their rations are barely sufficient and when their clothes, which they get once a year, are torn they have no means to buy new ones." For these unfortunate you people, catching on with a Wild West show may well have been their best "ticket out"

    The third letter was written to McLaughlin by Welsh the very next day, asking his opinion on the Bishop's comments. An interesting group, in excellent condition except for roughness on the edge of one where it was torn from an album or binder.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2012
    10th Sunday
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