Photographs of Chief Wolf Wanna
Digitized Content

Collection ID:
Marotta, Louis
circa 1910-1914
Physical Description:
0.05 Linear feet
7 Photographic prints
This collection consists of 5 publicity photographic portraits and 2 photographic performance posters of Native American entertainer and performer Chief Wolf Wanna.

Content Description
Content Description
The Photographs of Chief Wolf Wanna collection consists of 5 publicity portraits and 2 photographic performance posters of Native American entertainer and performer Chief Wolf Wanna. These materials provide a window into the performing career of Wanna, originally from the U.S. Southwest, who moved to New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. Wanna briefly found celebrity in lecturing, singing, and performing dances which romanticized and to some extent stereotyped Native cultures throughout the U.S.

The materials in this collection are organized into folders.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Specific details on the life of Chief Wolf Wanna (1880-1919) are somewhat difficult to locate. Wolf Wanna was born to Petro Wanna and Luiza Obanda in Pueblo, Colorado in 1880. He may have possibly attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, although no records appear to exist. Around 1905 Wanna lived in San Antonio, Texas, where he worked as a ranch foreman. He later relocated to New York City sometime prior to 1911, and in June of that year married Loretta Colombo in Boston, Massachusetts.
During his early years in New York City he traveled throughout the country, working in motion pictures, vaudeville, and stage performances, and was billed as "Chief Wolf Wanna – Full blood American Indian Performer and Entertainer." Various newspaper articles and playbills identify Wanna as either Diné (Navajo) or Apache, and as the "favorite grandson" of Goyathlay (Geronimo, ca. 1825-1909; Chiricahua Apache). During these early years of his stage career, he reportedly lectured on "Justice to the Indian," spoke about Custer's Last Stand and Sitting Bull, sang a number of songs, and performed Native American dances. In the years 1911-1914, he may have also been involved with Wild West shows.
By 1915 Wanna was re-married to Mary Schlereth, still living in New York City, and self-employed as a Medicine Manufacturer. Sometime around 1915-1916 Wanna was employed to promote "Walsh's Eucalyptus and Menthol Inhaler" by John J. Walsh, whom the 1915 Journal of the American Medical Association considered a street faker. By 1919 Wanna and Schlereth had separated, and he was employed as a "Medical Demonstrator." Chief Wolf Wanna died in November, 1919, in New York.

Processing Information
Processed by Nathan Sowry, Reference Archivist, in 2019.
Separated Materials
One oil portrait of Chief Wolf Wanna is in the NMAI Object Collections, and was assigned the object number 24/3981.
Nathan Sowry
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated by Louis Marotta in 1970.


Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to For personal or classroom use, users are invited to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not modified in any way, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian. For more information please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request website.
Preferred Citation
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Photographs of Chief Wolf Wanna, NMAI.AC.332; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Carl A. Kroch Library of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University also contains two cloth-backed posters promoting lectures by Chief Wolf Wanna.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Apache Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diné (Navajo) Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Museum of the American Indian
4220 Silver Hill Rd
Suitland 20746-2863