No. 446. Rosebud Agency. D[akota]. T[erritory]. William R. Cross, photog.
No. 446. Rosebud Agency. D[akota]. T[erritory].

No. 446. Rosebud Agency. D[akota]. T[erritory].

[Rosebud, Dakota Territory, ca. 1878.]. 118 x 196 mm, plus margins. Inscription on the verso reads, “Famous Rosebud Agency, Dakota Territory.”.

A fine view of the Rosebud Agency compound and the surrounding landscape by an early photographer of the Great Plains.

This beautiful photo was taken ca. 1875–1885 by photographer of the Nebraska-South Dakota frontier, William R. Cross (1839–1907), capturing the Rosebud Agency settlement and surrounding terrain. Originally from Vermont, Cross’s career as a Western photographer began in 1867 when he and his wife settled in Nebraska, where he later opened a gallery. A move to Knox County in 1871 provided Cross the impetus to begin traveling with his photographic equipment. It was then that he first began photographing the Brulé Sioux on their lands around the Spotted Tail (later Rosebud) Agency. It seems most likely that the present photo was taken in 1878 during a several-month trip to the agency between February–June. By the late 1880s, Cross had relocated to the area around the Black Hills; in 1890 he took over the gallery of photographer J.W. Pike in Hot Springs. Although our copy does not identify a photographer, other copies of this image bearing Cross’s Hot Springs backstamp are known.

Pictured here are grazing animals, teepees, one covered wagon, and numerous log-cabins and edifices. The entire terrain is largely barren of trees, with just a few growing along what appears to be a river bed. Dirt roads are shown carving into the hills. The large walled-in area of the Rosebud Agency occupies much of the upper part of the image and contains perhaps fifteen buildings. The Rosebud Indian Reservation, which spans some 1,970 square-miles, was founded in the wake of the Federal government’s division of the Great Sioux Reservation, which was created under the terms of the Treaty of Fort Laramie.

OCLC records 1 copy, at the Denver Public Library.

CONDITION: Very good; a few small bumps to the corners.

REFERENCES: Mitchell, Lynn Marie. William Richard Cross, Photographer on the Nebraska–South Dakota Frontier at; Mautz, Carl. Biographies of Western Photographers (Nevada City, CA, 2018), p. 220; Guide to the W.R. Cross Photograph Collection at the Leland D. Case Library of Western Historical Studies at; Rosebud Indian Reservation US Indian Reservation at

Item #4630


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