|Glenbow File number: NA-1010-24|
Title: Big Bear, Cree.
The Cree chief was apparently no narcissist, and would often make fun of his appearance. An incident in the early 1880s shows that Big Bear had a good sense of humour about it all. Walpole Roland, a photographer that wanted to take the chief's picture, was taken aback by the exorbitant demands for provisions from his prospective model.
Roland noted, "After giving him some presents, I said I could not afford so much; that he was reversing the order of things seriously, and further that I would try and find, if possible, a more repulsive-looking Indian between here and the Rockies and call him Big Bear. At this he laughed very heartily and, wishing me good day, gave me a parting shot by adding that I would probably go beyond the Rockies to find his rival in ugliness." (Dempsey, p. 117) Roland concluded that he had met the most stubborn chief on the prairies. The judgement is in keeping with a leader who refused to take treaty, demanded better terms, and stalled on the selection of his reserve for many years.
|"Crow" D.F. Barry|
the man, Crow, whose picture you show me, wears those things in his hair. They are stripped feathers. He was shot by two arrows once. He pulled them both through. He did not break them off. So he can wear the quill of the eagle's feathers for each one.Users of the internet forum American-Tribes have identified an earlier misconstruction of the Barry photo as Big Bear in The Graphic illustrated magazine. This may be the original case of swapped identity, but could be that the Canadian Illustrated News ran these graphics first, as the McCord-Museum has them listed as the work of John Henry Walker (1831-1899), who sold his etchings to that journal.
One gets the feeling the north-west rebellion was good news in 1885, and editors were fine with running the picture of any aboriginal man who looked suitably exotic enough to impress their readers. The portrait of "Poundmaker" on the far left has been suggested to be "Bad Soup", perhaps of the Blackfoot tribe.
|Big Bear from Gowanlock's "Two Months..."|