HOME  >  Browse  >  Photographs  >  Photographic Masterworks  >  32 Fort Laramie Treaty Photographs

an exceptional group of thirty-two stereoviews of the Fort Laramie Treaty by Gardner

GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 32 Fort Laramie Treaty Photographs

Fort Laramie, Wyoming Territory, 1868

32 albumen stereoviews, albumen prints on square-cornered yellow mounts. The verso of each card bears a number and title in Gardner’s hand. Some fading. Images generally in very good to fine condition.

This landmark series of Alexander Gardner photographs documents the Fort Laramie Treaty conference. The Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868 guaranteed the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills in the Wyoming Territory. The treaty was signed by U.S. officials and representatives of the Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, and the Brule, Oglala and Miniconjou Dakota. Intended to stop Indian hostilities against white settlers and miners traveling the Bozeman Trail, the treaty ended Red Cloud’s War.

Alexander Gardner, working for the Indian Peace Commission, was the only photographer present. Gardner arrived at Fort Laramie from Washington on April 24 and made these photographs between late April and early May 1868. The collection includes images of Native Americans from the Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, and the Brule, Oglala and Miniconjou Dakota, all taken at Fort Laramie.

Gardner’s May 10 photographs of the negotiations between the Cheyenne and Arapaho include one of the most important Indian photographs of the nineteenth century. The photograph of Man Afraid of His Horses smoking a pipe is “the only known photograph of the ritual smoking of a peace pipe among the Native Americans in the 19th century” (Fleming).

Leading authority Paula Fleming notes that, of the 200 negatives Gardner produced of the treaty negotiations, about 100 were stereoscopic, and of these, 54 were of Native American subjects. Considered in this context, the collection offered here is especially noteworthy. Twenty-five of the images are of various scenes depicting Native Americans, including four images of the council tipi of Man Afraid of His Horses. These include the famous published image showing him smoking the pipe (labeled No. 88 1/2) and another image apparently taken immediately beforehand (No. 88). Eight views show Crow attendees, including one of a mounted chief. Cheyenne and Arapaho images include a full-standing view of Little Wolf, a leading Northern Cheyenne chief and a signer of the treaty. The collection also includes several images of Indian guides and interpreters, as well as the Peace Commissioners, including one showing William Tecumseh Sherman treating with Indians.

This series of 32 photographs is a key documentary record in the history of Native Americans.

Provenance: Western Reserve Historical Society

Please inquire