In the late 1800's Cincinnatians loved Indians and Indians loved Cincinnati.
Wild West shows at the end of the 19th century were big because the frontier had disappeared and people were enamored with all things Indian. So when a Wild West show in Bellevue, Kentucky closed up, and Cree Indians from Montana were stranded, the Cincinnati Zoo came to the rescue, as far as the Native Americans were concerned.
The Indians signed contracts to work and live at the zoo in the summer of 1895. Zoo Director Thane Maynard looks back. "They were not at all an exhibit, like you would imagine zoo animals on exhibit. It was a cultural exhibit as much as we might bring drummers from a far away place to show culture."
The shows were popular and the zoo made $25,000 in just three months. That led them to hire another group in 1896. The Sicangu Sioux from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota brought 89 people to live and perform here. The zoo had to first get approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Cincinnati Museum Center's curator of archeology Bob Genheimer says the Indians liked living in Cincinnati. It was such a contrast to their impoverished life on reservation where buffalo were almost extinct. He said in Cincinnati they lived an urban life, saw all the sights and went shopping. They may have even ridden the streetcar.
More pics can be found on the website's slideshow.