Portrait of Edgar Laplante, a.k.a. Chief White Elk, taken in Bremerton, Washington State, February 1921. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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The Greater Dreamland amusement park, Coney Island, c.1905. To the left is the entrance to Bostock's Animal Arena, outside of which Edgar Laplante worked as a ballyhoo man during the summer of 1910. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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The tower at the Greater Dreamland amusement park, Coney Island, c.1905. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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A ballyhoo man at the Greater Dreamland amusement park, Coney Island, c.1911. During the summer of 1910, Edgar Laplante was employed in a comparable role, for which he was issued with what passed for a Native American costume and assigned the name Chief White Elk. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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A ballyhoo man at work at a Coney Island amusement park, c.1913.

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Performing lleopards at Bostock's Animal Arena on Coney Island (c.1905), where Edgar Laplante worked. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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The tower at Greater Dreamland amusement park, Coney Island, c.1905. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Dreamland amusement park, Coney Island, c.1905. Edgar Laplante worked there during the summer of 1910. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Edgar Laplante's onetime friend and employer, Chief Red Fox, posing outside the White House, 1915. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Poster for the 1920 movie in which Edgar Laplante pretended to have acted. 

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The star dancer and choreographer Harry Pilcer pictured c. 1910-15 with his girlfriend, the equally famous dancer Gaby Deslys, who died in 1920. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Poster for the 1923 movie that Edgar Laplante was hired to promote in France and Belgium.

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Lobby card promoting "The Covered Wagon" (1923).

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Article from "The Hays Free Press," Hays, Kansas, December 1917. Edgar Laplante had, of course, stolen the identity of the famous athlete Tom Longboat.

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Sign on the side of the Red Men Hall in Empire, Colorado. From 1898 onwards, the hall served as the lodge for Macinac No. 2 lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men. Ironically, this was a whites-only fraternal organization. It formed part of a long tradition of white Americans dressing up in their interpretation of Native American clothes. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Battle Creek, Michigan, 1914. Carnival float promoting the Degree of Pocahontas—the women's section of the Improved Order of Red Men. 

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1912 photo of members of the Eatronville, Washington State branch of the Degree of Pocohontas, the female wing of the Improved order of Red Men. (Courtesy of Rich Williams)

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Advertisement for a performance in Great Falls, Montana, October 1920.

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Hoboken, New Jersey, August 1917. Soldiers from the 406th Telegraph Battalion file onto the SS Antilles, ready for her departure to France.

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Illustration accompanying a news story in "The Morning Oregonian," April 1919, 1919. (Courtesy of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon)

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Panoramic view of Los Angeles from the Lankershim building, showing South Broadway (left), 7th Street (center) and North Broadway (right), November 1917. 

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Lobby card advertising "Wilson's Lions," a vaudeville act that appeared as part of the same show as Edgar Laplante in Salt Lake City, March 1918.

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View from the deck of the SS Antilles during Edgar Laplante's voyage from Hoboken to France, August 1917.

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Seamen gather around one of the guns aboard the SS Antilles during her voyage to France, August 1917.

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Smoke, the mascot of the 406th Telegraph Battalion, Signal Corps, whose members became friendly with Edgar Laplante during their voyage to France in August 1917.

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Members of the 406th Telegraph Battalion lounge around on the deck of the SS Antilles during her voyage to France, August 1917.

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Troops disembarking from the SS Antilles, the ship on which they and Edgar Laplante had just completed their transatlantic crossing, August 1917.

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The French town of St Nazaire, photographed shortly after the arrival of Edgar Laplante and his colleagues from the SS Antilles, August 1917.

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New York City, 1917, photographed by Paul Strand. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

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Advertisement for the hotel where Edgar Laplante pulled one of his cons in collaboration with a man calling himself H.H. Klein.

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Ethel Holmes, the British woman whom Edgar Laplante married bigamously when he visited Britain. (Courtesy of Michael Holmes.)

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September 1929 newspaper story about Edgar Laplante's return to America. 

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The Indian Village (aka the Painted Desert) at the Panama-California Exposition, c.1915. When Edgar Laplante visited the Exposition in 1917, the Indian Village was being used as the headquarters of the Twenty-First Infantry Regiment. Laplante regularly hobnobbed with the regiment's officers. (Image courtesy of the John Earl Collection, Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)

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Performance at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion

at the Panama-California Exposition, 1915.Almost two years later, Edgar Laplante would perform there. (Image courtesy of the Committee of One Hundred, the Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)


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The Indian Village (aka the Painted Desert) at the Panama-California Exposition, c.1915. (Image courtesy of the John Earl Collection, Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)

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Two battalions of US Navy personnel parading on the Plaza de Panama at the Panama-California Exposition, July 1915. In the guise of Chief White, leader of the Cherokee nation, Edgar Laplante subsequently inspected the troops there. (Image courtesy of the Panama California Exposition Digital Archive) 

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The Indian Village (aka the Painted Desert) at the Panama-California Exposition, c.1915. (Image courtesy of the John Earl Collection, Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)

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Patio of the Southern California Counties Building at the Panama-California Exposition, c.1915. (Image courtesy of the Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)

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Postcard of the Indian Village (aka the Painted Desert) at the Panama-California Exposition, 1916. (Image courtesy of the John Earl Collection, Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)

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Photo from the "Deseret Evening News", Salt Lake City, Utah, March 1918.

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Junction at Main Street, Spring Street, and 9th Street, Los Angeles, ca.1917.

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US Navy recruiter and would-be vaudeville performer, Frank "The Singing Sailor" Spaulding, with whom Edgar Laplante not only toured but also operated a con-game.

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Posing as Chief White Elk, Edgar Laplante stayed at the prestigious Hotel Utah during the spring of 1917. 

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Advertisement for a performance at a movie theater in Great Falls, Montana, October 1920.

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Fifth Street, San Diego, c.1917. Edgar Laplante visited the city that year. (Courtesy of the Susan Bugbee Collection, the Panama California Exposition Digital Archive)

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News coverage from "The Salt Lake Tribune," March 14, 1918.

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Edgar Laplante/Chief White Elk, pictured at his wedding to Burtha Thompson, Salt Lake City, March 1918.

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Part of an August 1919 advertisement for a vaudeville show at Levy's Orpheum in Seattle. The show starred Edgar Laplante's wife Burtha, a.k.a. Princess White Elk.

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Postcard depicting the surprisingly enlightened Rhode Island reform school to which Edgar Laplante was sent in November 1902.

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The printing workshop at Sockonosset School for Boys, c.1905. At the age of only fourteen, Edgar Laplante was sent there after he'd been convicted of carrying out his earliest recorded cons. 

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Part of the kitchen at the Sockonosset School for Boys, c.1905. After his first conviction, Edgar Laplante was sent to this enlightened reformatory.

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Edgar Laplante toured Canada with Dr Ng Poon Chew, who appeared on the same chautauqua.

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Sumayeh Atteyeh, the Syrian woman who was part of the same Chautauqua troupe as Edgar Laplante.

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Two of the other performers on Edgar Laplante's summer 1919 chautauqua tour of Canada.

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The Hendrys toured Canada on the same chautauqua as Edgar Laplante during the summer of 1919.

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1919 advertisement for Ellison-White, the chautauqua company that employed Edgar Laplante that summer. 

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Edgar Laplante witjh Dr Ng Poon Chew (left) and Francis Hendry (right), pictured during their chautauqua tour of Canada.

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Salt Lake City advertisement for the screening of the newsreel of Edgar Laplante's marriage, March 1918.

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Front-page story from "The Salt Lake Telegram", July 13, 1918.

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Advertisement for one of Edgar Laplante's shows in Victoria, British Columbia, July, 1921.

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"Big Jim" Kramer, the preacher at the First Baptist Church in San José, where Edgar Laplante pretended to be the Olympic athlete Tom Longboat in March 1917.

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The chorus line who not only featured in the same show as Edgar Laplante, but also served as bridesmaids when he got married in Salt Lake City later that month—March 1918.

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Frank R. Newman, the manager of Pantages Theater in Salt Lake City. He was one of the many people who fell for Edgar Laplante's Chief White Elk routine.

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Advertisement from "The Gazette-Times," Heppner, Oregon, March 1920.

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Advertisement from "The Evening Capital," Boise, Idaho, January 1920.

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Selection of Native American portraits by Edgar and Burtha's friend, Emma B. Freeman, reproduced in the March 1918 issue of "The Illustrated Review." Burtha Thompson is pictured on the bottom left.

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More portraits photos by Edgar and Burtha's friend, Emma B. Freeman, reproduced in the March 1918 issue of "The Illustrated Review."

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Advertisement for a performance in Ontario, Oregon, February 1920.

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Newspaper photo of Edgar Laplante/Chief White Elk, addressing the crowd in Trafalgar Square, London, December 1923.

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Advertisement from "The Lynden Tribune," Lyden, Washington State, April 1921..

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The viaduct over Salt Lake—the route that the self-styled Chief and Princess White Elk took when they traveled from Salt Lake City to San Francisco in March 1918.

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Archie Belaney (1888-1938), a.k.a. Grey Owl, a Scottish-born imposter who emigrated to Canada and reinvented himself as an Apache. He was posthumously exposed as a fake, but during his lifetime he became famous as an author of environmentalist books.

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