The discovery of some archival material has caused somewhat of a stir amongst local journalists recently (http://www.salfordonline.com/salfordvideos_page/25466-video:_salford_big_chief_found_in_manchester_museum.html). The material consists of a letter addressed to a Mr. Brode written on Buffalo Bill official stationery and a photograph of an American Indian called Red Shirt.
The letter is dated 1888 and was written by Buffalo Bill’s secretary S. Hanfield. From November 1887 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West company was encamped on the banks of the River Irwell, Salford, Greater Manchester, and would remain there performing to crowds of local people for several months.
Hanfield states in the letter that he also sent Brode a pair of moccasins which were made at ‘Pine Ridge Indian Agency, Dakota, U.S.A.‘ and worn by Red Shirt during performances. Red Shirt was a Oglala Lakota American Indian and to this day his people live at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. The photograph, taken by Salford photographer C.R. Brandis, is the only known image of Red Shirt taken during his time in Salford.
In 1928 Mr. Freston, chair of The Manchester Museum Committee at the time, donated a pair of moccasins which he claimed belonged to an ‘Indian Chief’. It is possible that these moccasins are the ones mentioned in the letter.
Stephen Terence Welsh
Curator of Living Cultures