MS 045 - Bureau of Indian Affairs - Wind River Agency Photograph Collection, 1900-1950 | McCracken Research Library
This photographic collection housed at the BIA, Wind River Agency, Ft. Washakie, Wyoming, consists of about 2,500 black-and-white photographic images. Most were in the form of glass plate or celluloid negatives ranging from 5"X7" to the smaller 3V'X4V' size. A few existed only in the form of prints, from which copy negatives have now been made. A very small percentage were missing entirely, leaving either the original storage envelopes (and information) or else nothing at all. The status of each separate image is indicated in this catalogue.
Most of the photographs were taken during the 1930's on the Wind River Reservation, although a few were dated in the late 1920's or early 1940's. They were primarily of the co-operative work projects in progress at the time, such as roadbuilding, erosion control, fire-fighting, sawmills, tie drives, irrigation ditches, completed dams, archaeological excavations, cattle and sheep-ranching, etc. Another large group of pictures, scattered throughout the collection, dealt with housing, and showed Shoshone and Arapaho families standing in front of their homes: Some were apparently taken to emphasize the need for new housing on" the reservation, and others showed recently-completed dwellings (but not usually of the same families). Another group showed the activities sponsored by the Agricultural Extension Service and personnel, such as planting and harvesting the many productive gardens, the Arapahoe Cannery, the selective breeding programs to provide improved dairy and workhorse stock (Percherons, Morgans, etc.), and 4-H shows. A smaller, over-lapping group showed the campuses and activities of the reservation schools, both as boarding schools and later as day schools; these include farming, vegetable gardening, carpentry projects, rodent control, home-ec classes, school livestock, the Drum and Bugle Corps, etc. Another group of photographs depicted the buildings, personnel, and services of the BIA, such as the various public health programs, payment of social security benefits, etc. The last major grouping showed various recreational activities, especially rodeos, barbecues, school commencement, Lander Pioneer Days, Memorial Day, summer camps, etc. There are also many numerous miscellaneous pictures of local scenery, young men being inducted into the Armed Services, visits by politicians and bishops, tribal council portraits and meetings, Maverick Springs oil field, Padlock Ranch, community stores, etc.
Many of the negatives were signed by photographers "Fox" or "Denier." Official photographer Frank Fox, an Oklahoma Indian, was a foreman for CCC-ID; later he operated a gas station in Lander. No information was available on Denier. Additional knowledge about the photographers would be appreciated.
A few of the photographs were apparently taken on holiday visits elsewhere. Although not an integral part of the collection, they were taken about the same time, and probably by the same people. One set, for example, was taken at Yellowstone Park, another back East. The set showing the Window Rock Agency, on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona (#241-249), may have been an assignment or a series of business trips.
Four photographs (#472, 558D & E, 617, & 618) were probably inserted into the collection because of their special interest, but were taken much earlier. Only copy negatives were brought here from their original locations, but contact prints have now been made of them, as well.
The negatives have been placed in acid-free mylar sleeves within new acid-free envelopes for long-term preservation. To further protect the negatives, contact sheets have been made from them—that is, photographic prints the exact size of the negatives themselves; none of the prints are enlargements. Three complete sets of the contact prints have been developed: One is at the Wind River Agency, Ft. Washakie, one at the Wyoming Indian High School, Ethete, and one held by the Arapaho Language and Culture Commission. These contact sheets were then used in the identification process, with the negatives stored for safe-keeping.
The information given on the original storage envelopes may or may not have been written right at the time the photographs were taken, but it seems to have been done quite early; other notations appear to have been added at a later date. The title and overall information noted on each envelope has been typed in capital letters in the catalogue; the information gathered during the brief course of this project is added in small letters, in order to distinguish it somewhat from the original. Below each envelope title, information is typed about the individual images; no attempt was made to separate original from recently-gathered data in this section: If such a distinction should become necessary, a researcher may refer back to the old manila envelopes, which are stored separately from the negatives, and from the backs of the old prints.
As the identifications were being collected from numerous community volunteers, attempts were made to include maiden names, nicknames, Indian names, and other pertinent data that would help to clarify the identifications. Many names are positive identifications; others are probable. Those that are disputed or are mostly educated guesses have been noted with a (?) before the name.