Chief Two Guns White Calf

Two Guns White Calf, the Blackfeet Indian Chief whose profile is supposed to be the model on the Buffalo nickel. There are 2 sides to the story on who the actual model was but it certainly is the spitting image of Chief Two Guns.

I ran across this top photo on Pinterest the other day and shared it on Facebook. This photo got a huge response and tons of shares. Everyone was moved by his dignity and style.

The Chief loved to have his photo taken and posed with tourists and portrait photographers as well. There are some very cool photos on Ebay of him. Click the images below to purchase them..

The Great Northern Railroad, always interested in promoting tourism to its Glacier Park Hotels and passenger traffic on its trains, sought to encourage the idea that Two Guns was the model. The argument raged from 1913 to the death of both figures in 1934 and continues to resurface even now.

 Chief Two Guns White Calf

The question would seem to have been put to rest by a letter from coin sculptor James Earl Fraser to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1931, in which he denied ever having seen Two Guns.

 Chief Two Guns White Calf

But Charles Bevard, an auctioneer who had come into possession of a number of Two Guns’ personal effects which led him into extensive historical research on the subject, suspected that the US Government wanted Fraser to “discredit” Two Guns as a coin model because they were afraid of the great influence he had on the tribes.

The Chief headed a secret organization known as the Mad Dog Society which was attempting to preserve Blackfoot Heritage. Traditional Indian dances such as the Sun Dance and the Ghost Dance, which had been banned, were again being performed after American Indians received blanket citizenship in 1924.

Bevard believed that the US Government feared that Chief Two Guns, like his father, might again take the fierce Blackfoot warriors on the warpath in an attempt to regain their land.

To try to put an end to the claim, The Artist James Fraser wrote that he had used three Indians for the piece, including "Iron Tail, the best Indian head I can remember. The other one was Two Moons, the other I cannot recall."


In 1938, Fraser stated that the three Indians had been "Iron Tail, a Sioux, John Big Tree, a Kiowa, and Two Moons, a Cheyenne". Despite the sculptor's efforts, he (and the Mint) continued to receive inquiries about the identity of the Indian model until his 1953 death.


Others pointed out that if Fraser had never been able to remember the third model, how could he be certain that it wasn’t Two Guns White Calf?

“If he wasn’t a model for the Buffalo nickel, he was [still] the most famous Indian in the 20th century,” Bevard said, “….

He had a relationship with non-indians, anyone from presidents on down, and he did a lot of great things for Indians and he was quite the statesman, and, if nothing else, he should be remembered for that.”

He definitely had the most charisma and style...and the fact that he scared the US Government gave him some very powerful swagger.

For our nickel it is TWO GUNS on that coin!  RIP Chief


Anonymous said...

We Live In Browning Montana An Were The Family Of Two Gun White Calf. My Mother Is The Last One With The Name White Calf Her Name Delphine White Calf Comment If You Need To Hear More.

Retro Kimmer said...

I am friends with your mom on Facebook and feel free to friend me there as well!

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