Danse indienne (1898) – dir. Gabriel Veyre

Mohawk reservation of Kahnawake – ‘Danse indienne’ (1898) – dir. Gabriel Veyre.

Probably less than a minute, b&w, silent.

Source : Lumière catalogue no. 1000

This “view” was shot by the leading Lumière cameraman, Gabriel Veyre, on 2 or 3 September 1898, when he was travelling through Canada on his way to Japan. It seems to be the only “view” that Veyre shot while in Canada, though it is possible that others may not have survived.

It is described in the Lumière catalogue as showing a dance involving three men and as being shot on Kahnawake, the Mohawk reservation on the south side of the St. Lawrence river across from Montréal.

With the possible exceptions of the films of Sioux dancing in the Edison Black Maria studio in New Jersey in September 1894 and a film taken at the Hopi Orayvi pueblo in August  1898 by Burton Holmes’s cameraman Oscar Depue, this “view” may constitute the first moving images of a North American First Nation.

Ghost Dance (1894) – dir. W.K-L. Dickson and William Heise*

20 seconds, b&w, silent.

Production : Edison Manufacturing Co.

Source : Viewable on the Library of Congress website here

Along with Buffalo Dance, this is one of two films of Sioux dancers that were shot in the Edison ‘Black Maria’ studio in New Jersey on 24 September 1894. The Sioux subjects were members of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show – a sign to this effect is just visible on the bottom right hand corner of the image. The  show was about to depart on a European tour and it has been suggested that these films might therefore have been made for promotional purposes.

The Edison catalogue comments “One of the most peculiar customs of the Sioux Tribe is here shown, the dancers being genuine Sioux Indians, in full war paint and war costumes”. However, the authenticity of the performance is questionable. It is highly unlikely that it had any meaningful connection to the millenarian Ghost Dance that developed among the Sioux after the killing of Chief Sitting Bull and 200 of his warriors in December 1890.

In some sources, this film is referred to as Indian War Council.

Text : Jordan 1992, pp. 26-29

Buffalo Dance (1894) – W. K-L. Dickson and William Heise *

14 seconds, b&w, silent.

Production : Edison Manufacturing Co.

Source :  Viewable on the Library of Congress website here

Along with Ghost Dance, this is one of two films of Sioux performers that were shot in the Edison ‘Black Maria’ studio in East Orange, New Jersey on 24 September 1894. These two films are generally considered to constitute the very first moving images of North American First Nations people.

The names of the dancers were Last Horse, Parts-His-Hair and Hair-Coat : the name of the musician accompanying them is unknown. All of them were members of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and they seem to be quite accustomed to performing for a public since one of them very pointedly looks at the camera.

The show was about to depart on a European tour, so it has been suggested that these films might therefore have been made for promotional purposes.

Text : Jordan 1992, pp. 25-28