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    Follow the Stories | Denver, Colorado (2010)

    Plains Indian Photos by W.S. Soule

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    • Lonny's Collection: H.S. Kilbourne's Memoir, Sketches, and Archive of W.S. Soule Photographs
      Lonny's collection of post-Civil War artifacts is in two parts: First, a memoir of Henry Sayles Kilbourne, a military doctor stationed at Fort Sill, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma); second, sketches of life on the Plains, made by Kilbourne after returning home; and finally, Kilbourne's collection of photographs, taken by W.S. Soule, the renowned photographer of the post-Civil War Plains Indians. In the following slideshow, the captions are drawn from Kilbourne's memoir, the images from Kilbourne's sketches and Soule's photos.

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    • Plains Indian, Mounted with Rifle
      "Out on the Plains one bright spring morning some years ago a young Kiowa brave rode up to my quarters, leading a war-pony saddled and bridled in Indian fashion. He asked me in the sign language to mount and ride away at once with him to an Indian Camp on the Otter, a tributary of the Salt Fork of the Red River of Texas some forty odd miles away. ... I obtained leave of absence and was soon in the saddle en route, galloping toward the western hills."

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    • Indian Sign Language for "Abandon"
      "Coming up out of the narrow valley on the opposite high bank the Indian, pointing toward the West, made the Indian sign for Camp. ... [He] then rode up in front, halted, and pointing fixedly made again the sign for 'horses,' adding after a moment's interval the sign for 'white.' Once more I looked marking accurately the direction of the extended arm of the guide and saw through the glass several minute, white specks faintly visible against the darker background of a remote ridge near the sky line."

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    • Indian Camp near Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory
      "The camp had been pitched in the vicinity of buffalo. Fresh buffalo meat hung every where about in plentiful crimson festoons, curing in the dry, preserving air of the plains — the sign that feast was in progress. ... Declining an invitation to join in the festivities and remain until the next day, and having disposed of a substantial buffalo steak, broiled over the embers of Mesquit, and having been hospitably provided with a remount, I started, toward nightfall, with the same fellow traveller, on the return journey."

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    • Buffalo on the Plains
      "[W]e hastened along through the night. ... Presently a vague tremor became sensible, whether in the air, or earth seemed to me indistinguishable, but growing every moment in volume and distinctness. ... The annual migration of the buffalo had begun. We were crossing the front of one of the enormous herds which periodically sweep over the plains like a hurricane from the tropics."

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    • An Enormous Herd
      "Our position became every instant more hazardous. Should we be overtaken and enveloped by the furious throng in the darkness, to make way through it would be impossible. The horrible fate of being trampled to death under pitiless hoofs seemed awaiting us."

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    • A Solitary Buffalo
      "Foul dust blinded and choked us. Swarms of gnats and flies drawn along in the swirl and rush of the moving thousands stung and buzzed into eyes, ears and nostrils. The heat and vapor of the laboring mass of animal life, oppressed and deadened our senses. The confusion and tumult became appalling in the darkness. But our case was not yet hopeless. We now moved with the buffalo, instead of against them."

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    • An Indian Brave Riding Bareback
      "Arrived at my frontier cottage ... we sat down to the work of restoration after the labor of the night. The astonished cook saw her larder disappear before the combined attack of the white and red men. And, if before the feast any doubt existed as to which is the superior race, after the board had been cleared, the weight of the argument lay with the noble red man."

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    • Excerpts from Kilbourne's "The Arrest of the Kiowa Chiefs"
      "In the Summer of the year 1871, the General of the Army made a personal inspection of the military posts on the northern frontier of Texas. ... On his way it happened that he passed the wreck of a wagon train of freighters which had just before been attacked by a war party of Indians. The wagons had been looted of their valuables, the horses and mules driven off and the trainmen killed and scalped."

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    • Satanta, Kiowa Warrior
      "Satanta one of the war chief's boasted of it saying [to the Agent interrogating him], "... I and my Kiowa brave young men fought that fight well, and we took many scalps and plenty of horses." On hearing this the Agent returned to the general and told him that he was afraid the Indians were guilty, and asked him what should be done. "Tell Satanta and all those who were with him in the fight, said the general, that I wish to see them here and have a talk with them about it."

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    • Saloso, Satanta's Son
      "After some delay the Indians, mounted on their ponies began to straggle into the quadrangle, enclosed on all sides by the barracks and quarters of the troops. Riding first, leading the motley procession came Sa-tan-ta the boaster, with Big Tree, a young brave gaily decorated with vermilion paint and eagle feathers. Next Sa-tank, an old chief, and Sa-lo-so, son of Sa-tan-ta, well mounted and equipped, rode side by side."

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    • Tauankia, Lone Wolf's Son
      "Lone Wolf followed attended by many braves of lesser noble, and Lone Wolf's son, a young and rising chief, bestriding a war pony adorned with braided mane and tail."

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    • Stumbling Bear
      "In the rear rode Stumbling Bear, a big, fat chief, curious to see the great white chief, and expecting to behold a much bigger man than himself."

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    • Lone Wolf
      "Now tell them," continued the general, "that I know the Kiowas have done this thing... . All those Kiowas here present, who killed the teamsters, I shall send back to Texas to be tried there by the white men for the crime of killing those white people. You Sa-tan-ta, and Sa-tank, and you Big Tree and you Lone Wolf, I arrest now."

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    • Lone Wolf's Camp
      "News of the difficulty the Kiowas were in had got wind and gone to the camp at the Agency. All who were there immediately took flight to the hills. So great was the excitement and consternation that they abandoned everything brought along. Teepees remained standing where they had been pitched. Food remained cooking over the fires, saddle and bridles were forgotten by the owners as they made their escape in frantic haste on bareback ponies."

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    • Satank
      "The Kiowas had been informed of their destination, and received the news stolidly, all excepting Sa-tank, the old chief. ... Sa-tank had determined to die, and ...suddenly rose while singing his monotonous chant, and threw himself upon one of the guards, seizing the carbine and quickly turning to the front, fired at the teamster sitting on a wheel mule, with his back toward the wagon and ignorant of his danger. ... Another of the guards at this instant fired and shot him through the body, inflicting a fatal wound."

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    • Mow-way, a Comanche Chief
      "The deterrent effect of this vigorous policy of dealing with the lawless redskins became at once apparent. ... In the two years following the events narrated, the Qua-ha-das, a most turbulent band of the Comanches, after a brilliant series of cavalry operations abandoned their retreats among the canons of the sources of the Red River and took a permanent residence on the reservation assigned to the tribe."

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    • Satanta
      "Two figures at least among the Kiowas have something more than a suggestion of heroism. Sa-tan-ta ... and Sa-tank of the lean and hungry visage, behind which lived a resolution and reckless, courage, of a Cassius, choosing death before dishonor, and resolving that it shall bring discomfiture to his enemies. If not now, then at some future time, we may have something to learn of the heathen which have been given unto us for an inheritance."

      Watch the full appraisal of this collection in our ROADSHOW Archive »

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