1873 George Armstrong Custer Favorite Indian Scout Bloody Knife Stereoview Photo
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1873 George Armstrong Custer Favorite Indian Scout Bloody Knife Stereoview Photo:
Exceptionally Rare and original, 1873, Native American Indian / George Armstrong Custer Stereoview Photograph of Native American Hunkpapa Sioux / Arikara Indian Scout Tamina Way Way (known as bloody Knife) with his beautifully decorated Winchester "Yellowtail" Repeating Rifle.
This simply fantastic and possibly previously unknown portrait of Custer's favorite Indian Scout who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, was taken in 1873 by William Pywell during the Yellowstone Expedition while bloody Knife was serving as a scout for the combined military and civilian expedition to the Yellowstone River area. The Albumen Stereoview measures approx. 7" by 3 15/16" and is mounted on its original, square corner, flat, photographer's card mount (yellow on the front surface and salmon on the reverse).
This Stereoview pictures the 7th Cavalry Indian Scout who was known to be Custer's favorite Scout. Custer's wife Libbie described their relationship thus: "bloody Knife was naturally mournful; his face still looked sad when he put on the presents given him. He was a perfect child about gifts, and the General studied to bring him something from the East that no other Indian had. He had proved himself such an invaluable scout to the general that they often had long interviews. Seated on the grass, the dogs lying about them, they talked over portions of the country that the general had never seen, the scout drawing excellent maps in the sand with a pointed stick. He was sometimes petulant, often moody, and it required the utmost patience on my husband’s part to submit to his humors; but his fidelity and cleverness [sic] made it worthwhile to yield to his tempers".
This portrait depicts bloody Knife kneeling on the edge of an open plain. he wears a U.S. Army jacket with a chevron of a corporal on his upper arm. Across his lap he holds a simply beautiful, early model, Winchester "Yellowtail" Repeating Rifle with outstanding brass tack decoration (see the scans below).
The Image is not identified in any way - no title, no photographer's mark and, in fact, no printed or manuscript text of any kind. Upon seeing it we were sure that we had seen it or a very similar stereoview in the past and spent hours trying to identify the subject and/or the photographer. With a little help from our friends the connection was made to an exceptionally rare Image of bloody Knife on horseback, likely taken the same day by photographer William A. Pywell. In that image the landscape around bloody Knife is similar to the landscape in the image offered here and the Scout wears the same clothing, same hat and hold the same beautiful Winchester Yellowtail. Click Here to See a Copy Print from the example of the Photo of bloody Knife on Horseback held by the Smithsonian Institution. Click Here to See an Original Stereoview of bloody Knife on Horseback which Recently sold at sale in Excess of $2000.00.
While we were only able to find a single example of the Stereoview of the Scout on horseback that had sold in the last 10 years, we were unable to uncover any mention of or any examples of the Image offered here. The National Archives / Library of Congress does not hold an example or a scan of this exceptionally rare photograph and we believe that it is possible that this is a previously unknown Image.
This very rare and wonderful, original Stereoview of George Armstrong Custer's favorite Indian Scout bloody Knife is in excellent condition exhibiting sharp focus, strong contrast and rich tonality. Both of the stereo images are clean and crisp while the card mount has some very light soiling and light wear at the corners only.
A very rare (perhaps previously unknown) and wonderful, ca1881 Stereo Photograph of George Armstrong Custer's Native American Indian Scout and casualty at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, bloody Knife and a fantastic addition to any collection!!
A Bit More About bloody Knife:
bloody Knife (Sioux: "Tamena Way Way" or "Tamina WeWe"; Arikara: "Nes I Ri Pat" or "Nee si Ra Pat") (ca. 1840 – June 25, 1876) was an American Indian who served as a scout and guide for the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment. He was the favorite scout of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and has been called "perhaps the most famous Native American scout to serve the U.S. Army." bloody Knife was born to a Hunkpapa Sioux father and an Arikara mother around 1840. He was abused and discriminated against by the other Sioux in his village because of his background, in particular by Gall, a future chief. When bloody Knife was a teenager, he left his village with his mother to live with the Arikara tribe. His brothers were killed during a Sioux raid led by Gall in 1862. bloody Knife found employment as a courier and hunter for the American Fur Company and later served under Alfred Sully before scouting for George Custer on several military expeditions.
In 1868, bloody Knife enlisted as a scout in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 7th Cavalry. He quickly became George Armstrong Custer's favorite scout. He was insolent toward whites and ridiculed them. He often amused Custer by ridiculing his marksmanship. Custer never got angry and often gave gifts to bloody Knife.
In 1874, bloody Knife guided the 7th Cavalry through the Black Hills. He was with Custer in the Little Bighorn campaign and told Custer there were too many Indians to fight, a warning Custer ignored. bloody Knife, in turn, ignored Custer's plea for him to stay out of the battle. bloody Knife was assigned to Major Marcus Reno during the Battle of the Little Bighorn and was killed by a shot to the head as he was standing beside Reno in the battle. Reno was attempting to ask him what the Indians were doing when he was shot and his blood splattered Reno's face. Reno then lost all inhibition and barked out orders that did not make sense before fleeing. It has been speculated that bloody Knife's blood splattering put Major Reno in a state of shock. bloody Knife was beheaded by the Sioux, who took the head to their camp.
Click Here to Read More about the Storied Life and Death of bloody Knife.
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APOLOGIES: Obviously the Winchester in this is a "Yellow Boy" NOT a "Yellowtail" (whatever that is).