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When the historic Lakota Sioux Warriors came to Salford

Salford Filmmaker Tanya Zakaria is making documentary about a group of Lakota Sioux Warriors and their visit to Salford.

A new documentary by filmmaker Tanya Zakaria, tells the story of an astonishing journey taken by a group of Lakota Sioux Warriors from the Great Plains of South Dakota, to the industrial cobbles of Salford.

She is seeking information about their visit to help assemble a documentary about it.

If you think you could help, or are interested in Native American Culture, read on…

The Salford Sioux

The Indigenous braves who became known as the ‘Salford Sioux’ starred in the legendary touring stage production; ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show’.

Tanya is currently on the hunt for personal stories, family connections, photographs and any other accounts or experiences linked to the Lakota Sioux’s presence in the UK, including their settlement in Salford in 1887 and the Wild West show that made them famous in Britain.

Tanya would like to hear from anyone with roots in the Northwest who may have a family connection. 

An Unlikely Meeting of Two Worlds

Salford is a special place, and its people have resilience, pride, heart and soul-just like the Lakota.

Culturally, it’s important to reflect on the unlikely collision of two worlds, when the Wild West of America came to the Northwest of England. 
Buffalo Bill, A.K.A William Cody, was a famous frontiersman and army scout who rivalled PT Barnham as a showbiz pioneer.

The Infamous Wild West Show

His infamous Wild West show was once the greatest show on earth.

Victorians flocked in their droves to see real-life Native American warriors, cowboys and other Plains people play themselves to packed audiences.
The intention was to give audiences a flavour of real frontier life.

The warriors were mostly from Oglala and Hunkpapa Lakota bands (sub-tribe), also known as the Teton Sioux. 

The Show Comes to Europe

Tanya Zakaria

After a successful run in America, the show travelled to Europe. The tour launched in London for the ‘American Exhibition’ then later moved to Salford, where the cast and crew settled for six months. 

In England, people quickly learned of these warriors and their legendary status and lined the streets to catch a glimpse of them.

But beyond the spectacle of the show, who were the Lakota braves? What was their backstory? And who might their contemporary descendants be? 

Speaking to Filmmaker and Salford resident, Tanya Zakaria said:  When I first stumbled across this story in 2017, I was immediately compelled to learn more about this fascinating hidden period of history.

“I couldn’t believe that notable Lakota warriors, including Chief Red Shirt and Black Elk, once lived in Salford.

“In the 1960’s, American Western films were extremely popular among the British working classes. However, many had no idea that the people these characters were based upon, once lived on their doorstep.

“Two unlikely communities were brought together because of extraordinary circumstances, and it will be fascinating to explore this extremely unique bond between Salford and Lakota people. 

“It’s believed that these two vastly differing communities were able to relate to one another due to their experiences of oppression.

“The plains tribes of the eighteen hundreds were assimilated, forced to live on reservations and survive on measly government rations. Travelling to England provided an escape, with the realisation that they had more freedom in Salford than at home.

“Across the pond, Victorian Salford folk were overworked, underpaid, living in a poverty-stricken and unbalanced class system.

“Over the past few years, I’ve learnt more about how modern-day America was founded, the devastation caused by assimilation and the amazing indigenous cultures that survived genocide.

“I’m working in collaboration with Professor David Stirrup, who was responsible for launching Europe’s first Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies at the University of Kent in 2019.

“Now based at the University of York, Prof. Stirrup also conducted a study, entitled ‘Beyond the Spectacle: Native North American Presence in Britain’. 

“From around the age of eleven, I’ve always had an interest in indigenous stories, after winning an art competition.

“My winning card design was sold on the high street in ‘Paperchase’, with a percentage of the sales donated to ‘Survival International’ – a charity that supports tribal peoples.

“I later studied the history of the ‘American West’ at school and went on to complete a Native American literature module at university. 

“Both sides of my family are from Pakistan and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. These regions were displaced when their lands were divided, conquered and torn apart by conflict. Because of this, I feel I’m able to resonate and empathise with communities who may feel voiceless on the world stage.

“I was honoured to be invited to South Dakota to meet descendants of one of the warriors who came to Britain. Some of the Lakota people I met were also extras in the film ‘Dances with Wolves’.

“Arguably, there have been very few accurate representations of Indigenous tribes on screen. The Wild West show created untrue stereotypes of indigenous people, which later set the tone for how they were inaccurately portrayed in Western films.”

Tanya will examine who the Lakota really are, and work with them to tell their story, accurately. 

Tanya is asking Manchester and Salford Residents the following questions:

Do you have a personal connection to the ‘Salford Sioux’ story?

Did any of your family members see the ‘Wild West’ shows?

Were any stories about the Salford Sioux passed down through your family?

Do you have old photographs from that time? Particularly interested in seeing any of the shows or Warriors.

Do you have any connections to performers in the Wild West show 1887-1904?

The warriors befriended a local Salford man and gave him moccasins as a parting gift – do you know this man, or have any information about him?

Please get in touch if you have any information, or would like to be considered to take part in this film.
Email [email protected] for more information

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