Unveiling The Julia E. Tuell Photography Collection

Photographs, Negatives, Glass Negatives and Equipment To Be Sold In Entirety

Featuring original photos from 1906–1929 of life with the Northern Cheyenne & Rosebud Sioux Tribes, this collection has frozen a pivotal moment in time of tribal adjustment to reservation life. Not only are the photos of historical significance, but the photographer is as well.

Julia E. Tuell, young teenage wife of a school teacher, mother to four children, missionary and nurse, extensively photographed sacred ceremonies normally off limits to white people and the raw events of daily life. Julia packed her eight-by-ten-inch glass-plate Eastman Kodak camera and tripod with her nearly everywhere she went, often with children in tow.

Julia came to know and photograph warriors and families that had fought at the battle of the Little Bighorn, and experienced the tragic massacre at Wounded Knee. She came to be trusted by members of several tribes during this gut-wrenching era for Native Americans. Much of the collection is documentary in form, while some of it is more personal. In some photos, you can see amusement in the faces of her subjects as they observed this young mother taking their portrait, and in other photos, you’ll see them holding and posing with Julia’s children.

Author Dan Aadland chronicled this, and much more of Julia’s work and life in his 1996 family-authorized biography, Women and Warriors of the Plains. Dan Aadland worked closely with Julia’s son, Varble Tuell. Varble, Julia’s youngest child, passed away on April 18, 2011, at the age of 97. Varble handed his mother’s treasured collection to his son, Julia’s grandson, Buzz Tuell. Buzz has kept this sizeable collection in his home, in Billings, MT. Realizing the historical significance of his grandmother’s collection, Buzz would like to see it reach its full potential with the right collector.

This entire private collection of more than 18,000 pieces has never been open to the public. At the request of Julia E. Tuell and her family, her collection is to remain intact. The collection was appraised in 2016 by Timothy Gordon Appraisals, A.O.A., Missoula, MT, who specializes in the appraisal of historical photography.

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