Rain-in-the-Face c. 18351905

David F. Barry (18541934)
Albumen silver print, 1888

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In the years immediately following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, many Americans believed that Rain-in-the-Face was responsible for killing George A. Custer, the renowned commander of the Seventh Cavalry.

Contributing to this story’s popularity, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized the Lakota warrior in a poem about Custer’s last stand titled “The Revenge of Rain-in-the-Face.” Although Rain-in-the-Face did participate in this and other battles, he later distanced himself from this claim, explaining “in that fight the excitement was so great that we scarcely recognized our nearest friends.”

Deciding to relocate to Canada with Sitting Bull’s followers after the battle, Rain-in-the-Face ultimately surrendered to federal authorities in 1880. For the remainder of his life, he lived on the Standing Rock Reservation. The cabinet card shown here is one in a series of portraits of famous Native American warriors assembled by photographer David F. Barry.