In 1898, American photographer Gertrude Käsebier watched Buffalo Bill’s Wild West troupe parade past her Fifth Avenue studio in New York City, New York, toward Madison Square Garden.
Her memories of affection and respect for the Lakota people inspired her to send a letter to William “Buffalo Bill” Cody requesting permission to photograph Sioux traveling with the show in her studio.
Cody and Käsebier were similar in their abiding respect for Native American culture and maintained friendships with the Sioux. Cody quickly approved Käsebier’s request and she began her project on Sunday morning, April 14, 1898. Käsebier’s project was purely artistic and her images were not made for commercial purposes and never used in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West program booklets or promotional posters.