Evocative Photograph of Iron Whip
On Special Card Mount of F. V. Hayden's U.S. Geological Survey
A wonderful cabinet card of Iron Whip, a member of the Ponca, a midwestern tribe forcibly removed to Indian Territory in the 1870s. Iron Whip or Wegacapi is shown seated, wearing an impressive bear claw collar, with a blanket covering his lap. This portrait was likely made by Julian Vannerson, a Washington, D.C. photographer who specialized in photographing Native American delegations who came to Washington for treaty negotiations.
According to Merry A. Foresta (American Photographs: The First Century,1996), Adrian Vannerson was part of a systematic government effort to document members of treaty delegations who came to Washington, D.C. Area portrait studios, including that of James McClees, for whom Vannerson worked, made steady profits from the business of delegation photography. In the winter season of 1857–58 some ninety delegates from thirteen tribes were in the capital. The Amon Carter Museum has a print of this photograph which they attribute to Julian Vannerson. The museum dates the image to ca. 1858-1859.
Ferdinand V. Hayden
The present cabinet card, likely dating to the 1870s, is notable for being a part of a rare series of Native American photographs issued under the direction of Ferdinand V. Hayden, director of the U.S. Geological Survey. Hayden led the famous 1871 government expedition into the Yellowstone region of northwestern Wyoming. William Henry Jackson is often associated with Hayden do to his photographic work on the latter's survey, and some of Jackson's portraits of Native Americans are also included in the series of which the present cabinet card is a part.
Original cabinet cards of Native Americans issued by the U.S. Geological Survey under F. V. Hayden are avidly sought and have become rare in the market.