2 research outputs found

    The big break : race and gender in Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West, 1888-1913.

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    Wild West shows such as that organized by Gordon William "Pawnee Bill" Lillie were the national pastime of America, and endeavored to teach Euro-Americans about life on the western frontier. Pawnee Bill's traveling show was a large, complicated, and dangerous operation due to turn-of-the-century railroad travel and the difficulties of performing with wild animals. For the early cowgirls, American Indian women, and Georgians, employment in Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West meant societal, cultural, and economic opportunity. The early cowgirls pushed the boundaries of society by their riding style, dress, and new pastimes. Despite stereotypical portrayals as "squaws" or "princesses," participation in the Wild West shows let American Indian women preserve their traditional way of life, escape the reservations, and keep their children with them and out of the boarding schools. Show organizers falsely billed the Georgian riders as "Russian Cossacks," but they nonetheless earned more money with an American tent show than they could in their civil war-torn country, and took it home to help feed their families. For these three groups, employment in Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West was their "big break;" their chance to make their lives a little better

    Chronicles of Oklahoma

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    Article describes American Indian women's roles while participating as part of the cast in Wild West shows. Wild West shows, such as the ones organized by G. W. "Pawnee Bill" Lillie, featured acts that entertained audiences and showed white Americans a version of life in the West. Alyce Vigil describes how American Indian women in the cast worked to maintain their traditions in this new context
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