Chief Buffalo Picture Search: Busted Again

March 12, 2016

By Amorin Mello

This post is one of several that seek to determine how many images exist of Great Buffalo, the famous La Pointe Ojibwe chief who died in 1855.  To learn why this is necessary, please read this post introducing the Great Chief Buffalo Picture Search.

Posts on Chequamegon History are generally of the obscure variety and are probably only interesting to a handful of people.  We anticipate this one could cause some controversy as it concerns an object that holds a lot of importance to many people who live in our area.  All we can say about that is that this post represents our research into original historical documents.  We did not set out to prove anybody right or wrong, and we don’t think this has to be the last word on the subject.  This post is simply our reasoned conclusions based on the evidence we’ve seen.  Take from it what you will.  

"Chippewa man in Washington, D.C." Carte de visite by Charles D. Fredricks & Co., 1862 10 cm x 6 cm From the Charles W. Jenks carte de visite collection Photo. 126.194 ~ Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Online

“Chippewa man in Washington, D.C.”
Carte de visite by Charles D. Fredricks & Co., 1862
10 cm x 6 cm
From the Charles W. Jenks carte de visite collection
Photo. 126.194
~ Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Online

The above image has been shared on Facebook and Pinterest social media networks as a photograph of Chief Buffalo from La Pointe.   Evidently, it originally came from the Massachusetts Historical Society, and was labeled as an unidentified Chippewa man in Washington D.C.  However, it is dated as 1862, which was several years after the death of Chief Buffalo from La Pointe.

On the other hand… it was pointed out to me that the person in the above photograph bears a strong resemblance to a certain painting of Chief Buffalo publicly available for viewing in the main lobby of the Tribal Administration Building in Red Cliff (or here, for convenience).  The artist of this modern painting is a living member of Chief Buffalo’s family, is a tribal member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and has attributed the painting’s appearance to two busts of Chief Buffalo found in Washington D.C.

These inspiring busts were featured previously in Chief Buffalo Picture Search: The Capital Busts, by Leo Filipczak, and are summarized with the three following images:

Be sheekee, or Buffalo by Francis Vincenti, Marble, Modeled 1855, Carved 1856 (United States Senate)
Not Chief Buffalo from La Pointe. This is Chief Buffalo from Leech Lake.

Be Sheekee: A Chippewa Warrior from the Sources of the Mississippi, bronze, by Joseph Lassalle after Francis Vincenti, House wing of the United States Capitol (U.S. Capitol Historical Society).
Not Chief Buffalo from La Pointe. This is Chief Buffalo from Leech Lake.

Be-She-Kee (Buffalo), Head Chief of the Leech Lake Chippewas c. 1863 (Whitney’s Gallery, St. Paul)
Not Chief Buffalo from La Pointe. This is Chief Buffalo from Leech Lake.

Unfortunately, we are not any closer to finding a photograph of Chief Buffalo from La Pointe.

The good news is:

beshekeewag

The photograph in question can safely be identified as Chief Buffalo… from Leech Lake.

"Chippewa man in Washington, D.C." Carte de visite by Charles D. Fredricks & Co., 1862 10 cm x 6 cm From the Charles W. Jenks carte de visite collection Photo. 126.194 ~ Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Online

Not Chief Buffalo from La Pointe. This is Chief Buffalo from Leech Lake.

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2 Responses to “Chief Buffalo Picture Search: Busted Again”

  1. Linda Louise Bryan said

    from the American Phrenological Journal Nov 1855 (American Periodicals newspaper service)…
    Death of an Indian Chief.–
    One of the most remarkable Indians at the Northwest died on the 7th of September at the great age of about 100 years. Ke-Che-Waishe-Ke, or the Buffalo Chief, the head and the most able chief of the Chippewa nation of Indians–alike noted for his rare integrity, wisdom in council, power as an orator, and magnanimity as a warrior. He was confined to his lodge only a week by sickness, pulmonary disease, and was buried one mile below Middle Fort with military honors. Religious services were held in the Catholic church, Buffalo having received the baptismal rites two days before his death. Two or three days previous to his decease, Buffalo made his will in the presence of Commissioner Manypenny and others, and a short time before his death he presented the Commissioner with his pipe and tobacco punch, desiring him to take them with him to Washington, saying, “I have smoked my last pipe, and have no more use for them.” The Commissioner told the thing chief his wish should be granted. Buffalo had his fifth wife, and a numerous family, mostly dressing after the fashion of the whites, and considerably advanced in civilization.

  2. Stephanie said

    I am a descendant of Chief Buffalo of the La Pointe Band and I have been trying to discover as much about him and my family as I can. I truly admire your dedication to this topic.

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