"I found six Cheyennes who had just left the war path, all strappen big fellows. I took them among the rocks and set them up as food for my camera," wrote John K. Hillers in a May 1875 letter to his brother. At that time, Hillers was in Oklahoma photographing scenes of life in what was then called the Eastern Indian Territory. He made this portrait of Little Bear, a proud Cheyenne warrior seated holding a long pipe, the day after his arrival in the area.
Hillers went to Indian Territory under the direction of John Wesley Powell, an expedition leader with whom he had worked for four years. Powell, who conducted his surveys under the direction of the Department of the Interior, used Hillers's photographs to gain Congressional support for further expeditions. The images brought public recognition to both men when they appeared in the Powell Survey exhibit at Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exhibition, a world's fair attended by over ten million visitors.