Buffalo Bill: friend of the Redskins?

Buffalo Bill: friend of the Redskins?


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First a scout in the US military, bison and Indian hunter, Buffalo bill became famous long before 1880, thanks to his adventures recounted in the newspapers. Understanding that he can benefit from it, he remains a friend of the Redskins while agreeing to the publication of a collection of booklets "the only original edition authorized by the Collar. W. F. Cody, says Buffalo Bill, ”published worldwide in multiple languages. Filmed in 1894, then in 1902, this mythical figure of the conquest of the West published his Memoirs under the title "My life" and became the hero of several westerns.

Origins of William Cody ...

In the book “Thirty Years Among the Indians” by Colonel Richard Irwing Dodge, we discover that “the famous scout enjoys deserved popularity… We know Bill Cody well, having campaigned with him three times against the Indians… we can testify that Buffalo Bill is also adored by the army and the men of the frontier, that he is feared by the Indians with plumes of which he is the terror ”. In order to distinguish between reality and legend, Buffalo Bill collaborated on serious works, countersigned by Colonel Henry Inman.

Real name William Frederick Cody was born February 26, 1846 in Iowa and lives in a pioneer hut. His family later moved to Kansas and young William quickly became an excellent horseman.

Very early on, he was a “pony express rider” or postal courier, a very dangerous job; then he drives convoys across the plains and hunts buffalo for a living; scout and guide of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, he supplied the workers with meat during the construction of a railway line; Having become the head of the scouts of the corps responsible for overseeing the construction work of the Union Pacific, he repeatedly meets the Redskins; At the United States Army Scout Command Post, he also rubbed shoulders with the great generals.

Considered to be an "expert at all shots", he never misses his goal by shooting colts, shotguns, rifles, etc. whether on animals, birds or enemies; "Upright man, modest, simple, authoritarian but good, he avoids quarrels and never will have any, has excellent eyesight, knows how to appreciate distances, robust, tireless, always ready first" according to General Carr .

... aka Buffalo Bill

During the Civil War, he participated in the fighting, but he was also entrusted with intelligence missions before September 1865; scout, he transmits the mail of General Sheridan, in areas infested with Indians; in 1867, he accompanied General Custer; During the construction of the Kansas Pacific Railroad line that same year, he slaughtered 3,000 bison and buffaloes (to feed the workers) and got his nickname Buffalo Bill.

At the end of 1872, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor (which he had to return in 1916, not being part of the army, the rank being purely honorary) then was a member of the legislative body of Nebraska, but he left the post. for the east coast. He took part in about fifteen fights against the Indians, serving as an independent mercenary, with horses provided by the army, as well as upkeep, food, shelter and obtaining additional bonuses for dangerous missions. His good reputation has earned him fame and he serves as a guide for famous visitors like the Grand Duke Alexis (3rd son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia). He finds that he can increase his income.

Buffalo Bill and the Conquest of the West Show

He was only 26 when he decided to change his existence and give up his missions to put on a show. Developing the myth born around him, he will create a gigantic spectacle retracing the major stages of the Conquest of the American West. However, when there was a conflict in 1876 with the Sioux, he was present and joined the 5th Cavalry Regiment.

In 1872, he attended a theatrical performance "Buffalo Bill, the King of Western Men". He starred in a play presented in Chicago and then on the East Coast. He created a company made up of Indians and cowboys which would exist for ten years, to which was added Major John M. Burke. At the start, it's a small show with shooting practice, cavalcades and Indian dances; then on the occasion of Independence Day on July 4 in 1882, he produced a bigger show in Nebraska with shooting competitions, horse training (supporting rewards ... which attracted the world), hunting au bison… it's a huge success.

He then thinks of doing even bigger by setting up the “Wild West Show” and his Redskins. For this, he chose his staff, looked for famous shooters, performed in leisure parks and decided to tour Europe in 1887-1888. On the occasion of the World's Fair in 1889, Buffalo Bill set up his show for seven months in Paris; after a tour in France until March 1890, he went to Belgium, England: he was so well received that he decided on a second round in several cities between 1905 and 1906, it would be a huge success.

But between two show tours, out of friendship for his Indians, Buffalo Bill left to defend them when the army decided to eliminate them in 1890 ... it came too late, the Indian chief Sitting Bull was killed on December 15. He can only save twenty or so Indians formed in defense movement and brings them back with him on his show in Europe.

This tour would last four years between 1902 and 1906, calling itself the “Program”. At Christmas 1902 he was in England; on April 2, 1905 he arrived in France and remained in Paris until June 4, then went on tour in 21 cities where he reached Nîmes and Avignon at the end of October 1905; at the end of November, he was in Marseille, then joined Nice and Italy before returning to America in November 1906.

Around 1909, Buffalo Bill merged with another group becoming "the Pawnee Bill West" but went bankrupt in 1913, because a serious competitor had existed since 1908 "the 101 Ranch Wild West Show", in which Cody was invited to participate in 1916, the tour then taking the name of "Buffalo Bill and 101 Ranch Shows Combined".

But worn out by alcohol and illness, William Frederick Cody died on January 10, 1917 in Denver, Colorado: for 33 years he had been the main star of his show, presented in 2,000 cities, 12 countries and having received 50 million spectators.

The 1905 "Program" and the tour in Europe

France welcomes with great enthusiasm Buffalo Bill's troop in 1905 composed of outstanding horsemen and hundreds of Indian warriors, because curiously the Redskins are better accepted here than in Europe (London, the Vatican, Belgium ). Buffalo Bill promotes these people and although he has fought against them frequently, he met them when they were stationed on their Pine Ridge or Cheyenne River reservations and asked them to take part in his show. He managed to hire prestigious Redskin and Sioux chefs, like Sitting Bull with a salary of $ 50 a week. On the posters, under the portrait of the Indian, we find the following caption "Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, enemies in 1876, friends in 1885".

Why this friendship, when Buffalo Bill spent part of his life killing them? In his show, Buffalo Bill wanted to show two aspects of this people: the very wild side and their submission to the higher civilization. The children of the Redskins, recognizing themselves the superiority of the soldiers of the army, agree to follow the enemy of their fathers.

The Cowboy Orchestra opens the show presented by Buffalo Bill. The spectators discover large parades, exhibitions of Indian riders, Cossacks, Mexicans, a convoy of emigrants, shooting exercises, two great maneuvers carried out by veterans of the army and by the militia of the United States, exercises by the French, English, American cavalry, a stagecoach attack, several equestrian entertainment, General Custer's last fight, a horse race ridden by the Indians among the most famous Iron Tail (Queue-de-Fer) which is already 75 years old in 1905 and Sam Lone Bear (Lone Bear) 28, finally the final parade led by Buffalo Bill. The logistics were impressive for the time: 500 horses, 700 participants and technicians, 16 vessels to cross the Ocean for 2 hours of a grandiose spectacle where Buffalo Bill is considered as the "collector of human races who enabled warriors of all ages. nations to shake hands! ".

He begins his tour in France, stopping in Normandy, Brittany, in the West, but one region is more privileged: the Camargue is very popular with the Indians, the horses, the bulls, the vast expanses, the impression of freedom , the magic of the wilderness resembling the great plains and the activities of the American West. There, in the South of France, the Marquis Folco de Baroncelli-Javon, aristocrat, poet, writer and owner of horses and bulls welcomed them with passion to Nîmes in October 1905; he does them the honors of the region by showing them the work in the animals, the games with bulls and horses. Queue-de-Fer (Iron Tail) and Yeux-Blancs (Jacob White Eyes) are at first very surprised, not daring to move, then very impressed by the agility of the rider and his horse: a great and long friendship was born.

Franco-Amerindian friendship

Young, the Marquis de Baroncelli-Javon was already consulting books on the American West and the Indians. Having become famous, he always wanted to save the lost causes, in one way or another supporting the people crushed by invaders from elsewhere. Wanting to preserve the identity of his region and its customs, to fight for its language, he recognizes that the Amerindians' struggle is the same: the story of their root and the survival of an ideal. He dedicated a poem to them and paid homage to them in Provençal literature with his war song "The Dance of the Spirits" in honor of the chefs Queue-de-Fer and Ours Solitaire (Lone Bear) composed in 1905.

At the same time, a young French painter, Joë Hamman made the trip to America, creating new friendly ties with this country. Returning to France, he met the Marquis de Baroncelli-Javon and both passionate about this people of Indians, send their news, receive those of their friends and decide to tell their story and their life by making films: the first westerns at the time of silent cinema were thus produced in the Camargue.

Friendship still exists between these two peoples: the Indians came to honor the Marquis de Baroncelli-Javon "the friend of the Indians of Buffalo Bill" during the anniversary of the 500th anniversary of the meeting of the two peoples, in June 1992. One beautiful friendship that endures!

Bibliography

- Buffalo Bill, biography of Michel Faucheux. Folio, 2017.

- Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show, by Jacques Portes. Editions du Chêne, 2016.


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