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Keywords:

  • Henry S. Shuster;
  • identity;
  • material culture;
  • Native American armor;
  • photography;
  • Southern Plains;
  • symbolism

The use of armor by Plains Indians is one of the more obscure culture traits of the area. Although there are enough occasional references in early historical works to ascertain armor use and reconstruct some of the particulars, pictorial and artifact evidence has been virtually nonexistent. The recent discovery by Lawrence T. Jones III of a photographic carte de visite portraying an unknown Comanche, Kiowa, or Kiowa Apache (Plains Apache) man circa 1871 provides intriguing evidence for armor on the Southern Plains. This find also prompts discussion of related cultural practices and the ethnohistorical potential of photograph analysis.