Real Nebraska Stories: Last Days of Red Cloud Agency: Peter T. Buckley’s Photograph Collection, 1876-77

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Last Days of Red Cloud Agency: Peter T. Buckley’s Photograph Collection, 1876-77

The Last Days of Red Cloud Agency by Thomas R. Bueker is now available at Amazon Prime.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a cache of previously unknown photographs are surely worth a book. Especially when those images are from a period of traumatic change for Native peoples in the 1870s on the Northern Plains. This book reproduces for the first time images captured at the “Indian Agency” that marked the end of tribal traditional lifestyles and the beginning of restriction to reservations after the so-called “Great Sioux War.” The book, completed by well-known Ft. Robinson historian Thomas R. Buecker just before his untimely death last year, presents a collection of stereo card photographs of the Oglala Lakota and Arapaho Indians at northwestern Nebraska’s Red Cloud Agency, of the agency itself, and of other sites and landmarks in the vicinity. Peter T. Buckley, who worked at Camp (later Fort) Robinson, Nebraska, during those crucial years collected the work of multiple photographers. Many views are published here for the first time, and with those already familiar to historians, they tell a story of a land and culture in transition. Decoding these complex stories takes work. But readers are fortunate  to have Thomas R. Buecker to guide their exploration. A longtime curator at Fort Robinson Museum and author of the fort’s definitive two-volume history, Buecker (1948-2015) was equally comfortable talking with other historians and with the general public. Here he unravels the events and personalities behind the photographs, and shows how they illustrate the historical moment Buckley lived and wanted to preserve. It is also available at the Society’s Landmark Stores at the Ft. Robinson Museum, near Crawford; Chimney Rock Visitors Center, Bayard; and the Nebraska History Museum and the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. The photograph collection is owned by Larry Ness of Yankton, South Dakota, who generously allowed History Nebraska to scan and publish the photos. Publication costs were provided by the Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

What Readers Are Saying

Historian Jerome A. Greene, author of “American Carnage: Wounded Knee, 1890”  (University of Oklahoma Press), calls the Buckley photos “a gold mine of information” and says that Buecker’s “insightful context and commentary” make this “a volume of outstanding historical importance.” Buecker “was a master story-teller whose unique focus was the Pine Ridge Country and Fort Robinson,” says historian Paul L. Hedren, author of “After Custer: Loss and Transformation in Sioux Country” (Oklahoma). “He had a sharp eye for detail and especially reveled in the minute dimensions of that grand old fort, in the sagas of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Spotted Tail, or here in the remarkable tale of Camp Robinson and Red Cloud Agency in their glory days.”

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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