Frank Bennett Fiske

Arts & Entertainment

Inducted 2001

Frank Bennett Fiske was born June 11, 1883, at old Fort Bennett, 30 miles north of Pierre in southern Dakota Territory. When he was six months old, his father, George Edward Fiske, left the military and moved his family to a ranch about 60 miles north of Pierre.

George and Louise (Otter) Fiske gave up ranching during the 1888 drought and he worked as a wagon master at Fort Yates. From 1890 to 1900, Frank attended school at the fort and at the boarding school with the Indian children. He spent summers herding cows, taking them out onto the prairie and bringing them back again each day.

When Frank’s parents moved to a ranch near Fort Rice, he stayed at Fort Yates and opened a photography business at age 17. He developed a deep appreciation for the Sioux culture and became proficient at photo-graphing them. He published The Taming of the Sioux in 1917.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, Frank married Angela Cournoyer on his birthday in 1918. Back at Fort Yates, he continued his photography and served as Sioux County auditor, while Angela did substitute teaching in the agency school. After three years, he served as county treasurer.

In 1928, the family moved to McLaughlin, South Dakota, to Bismarck and back to Fort Yates. Frank was the last in a significant line of photographers attached to military posts along the Missouri River. He died July 18, 1952, in Bismarck.

Before his death, he donated 3,600 photo negatives of his work to the State Historical Society of North Dakota. After his death, the society purchased additional images and more were donated later. The state’s collection now numbers about 8,000 images, along with a number of other items.