Ti ra wa hut Re sa ru (Sky Chief)

Attributed to Edric L. Eaton American
Printer William Henry Jackson American

Not on view

This portrait of Sky Chief (Tirawahut Resaru), a Pawnee, has long been attributed to the frontier photographer William Henry Jackson (1843-1942). Between 1867 and 1869, Jackson acquired two photography studios in Omaha, Nebraska. With one of the businesses, that of Edric Eaton, came a large stock of negatives of Pawnees including the one from which this print was made. Eaton shows the Pawnee chief dressed in a typical late-1860s mix of U.S. military and traditional Native American clothing. Sky Chief, a close ally of the Federal government in its persistent struggle against the Dakota, an enemy of the Pawnee, wears an officer's frock coat with V-shaped cuffs over brightly striped leggings. Around his neck hangs a large, glinting U.S. peace medal, while in his left hand he holds a tomahawk-pipe, a ritual symbol of war and peace.
Sky Chief would live only five years after this studio visit. In August 1871 the Dakota murdered his wife, leaving him in charge of his only son. Two years later, after a devasting crop loss, Sky Chief led a small band of hunters into Dakota territory in desperate search of buffalo. The party was attacked by nearly one thousand Dakota warriors and Sky Chief was shot. Before dying, he reportedly slew his three-year-old son so that the child would not be scalped alive, as he himself was, moments later.

Ti ra wa hut Re sa ru (Sky Chief), Attributed to Edric L. Eaton (American, 1836–1890), Albumen silver print from glass negative

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