Scope and Contents
The William Wildschut collection contains 183 photographic negatives, and 21 photographic prints. The photographic negatives were made by Wildschut between 1917 and 1928. The majority of the photographs in this collection are of Apsáalooke people and their reservation, however the postcard collection consists of over 14 instances of people from unidentified tribes. Wildschut photographed Apsáalooke chiefs, leaders and their families in portrait style poses and his subjects are usually dressed in their finest. He also photographed events such as Crow fair, veteran celebrations, parades, ceremonies, and interments.
The Apsáalooke are a people of the northern plains, their ancestral territory is in Yellowstone River valley, which extends from present-day Wyoming, through Montana and into North Dakota, where it joins the Missouri River. Today the Crow Indian Reservation in located in south-central Montana which covers roughly 2,300,000 acres of land and it is the fifth-largest Indian reservation in the United States. The Crow are known for their horsemanship, exquisite beadwork, clan system, historic war societies, 7th Calvary scouts, prolific chiefs, and beautiful homeland.
Series 1: Apsáalooke chiefs and leaders photographed in portrait style taken between 1917-1928. Wildschut captured images of many of the last Apsáalooke war chiefs who were, at the time, adjusting to a new life on the reservation. Many of the chiefs and leaders Wildschut photographed were dealing with new issues such as the Allotment Act, the Indian Citizenship Act, implementation of boarding schools, and government imposed regulations on traditional practices.
Series 2: Groups of Apsáalooke people in various situations. These photographs were taken at social events such as parades, dances, celebrations, and at the 45th annual Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Series 3: Apsáalooke people (individuals and families) in various situations. Some photographs are portrait style poses and others are casual instances. The Crow, who call themselves Apsáalooke or Biiluuke, are people of the Northern Plains. The Apsáalooke people continue to maintain their language and remain resilient in their cultural practices, they still identify themselves through a clan system, these clans are Ashshitchíte/the Big Lodge, Ashhilaalíoo/ Newly Made Lodge, Uuwatashe/ Greasy Mouth, Ashíiooshe/ Sore Lip, Xúhkaalaxche/ Ties the Bundle, Biliikóoshe/ Whistling Waters, Ashkápkawiia/ Bad War Deeds, and the Aashkamne/ Piegan clan.
Series 4: Photographs of the reenactment of the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Garryowen, MT in 1921. The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought along the banks of the Little Bighorn River, in south central Montana on June 25-26, 1876. The 7th Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry engaged in armed combat with the Lakota, Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The site of the battlefield is located on the Crow Indian reservation which is where Wildschut photographed the re-enactment. This event involved actual survivors of the event and many other re-enactors.
Series 5: Casual photographs of non-ceremonial dances, parades, fairs, races and rodeos. The Apsáalooke enjoy a very social culture, they revel in coming together to sing, dance, and celebrate as often as possible. This is called baasaxpilúua (Celebration). Baasaxpilúua allows families and clans to reunite and solidify their bonds. One such occasion is the annual Crow Fair celebration that takes place on the Crow reservation, on the third week of August. The Crow parade is a stunning exhibition of beadwork adorning people, horses and various types of floats. The beadwork of the Crow people is among the most technically proficient and visually exquisite in the world.
Series 6: Encampments with tipis (ashtáale) and tents. Wildschuts photographs of encampments are on the Crow reservation, Fort Custer, and at the Billings fair (a fair that Crows would go to parade, dance, camp and watch races and rodeos). The Apsáalooke call the tipi ashtáale, which translates to real home. Wildschut was not allowed into the tipi to photograph, there is only one photographic instance where he took photographs of a family in a tipi [N31145] and [N31146].
Series 7: Restricted Photographs of interments, ceremonies, sacred spaces and objects). As an ethnographer William Wildschut spent time studying Crow culture. He interviewed Crow people and even witnessed ceremonial events. Wildschut developed relationships with certain Crows who allowed him the honor of being present when private sacred bundles where opened. In some cases Wildschut was allowed to photograph these sacred events. Not all Apsáalooke people agree with these permissions, however the Crow people understand that those who allowed Wildschuts presence did so for their own purposes. The Apsáalooke come from a living culture and still maintain their language, culture and beliefs. They have respectfully requested that these photographs not be made public.