John A. Anderson lived on the Rosebud Sioux reservation
for over 40 years. He is best known for his photographs of the Brule
Sioux during the early reservation period and for his collection of Sioux
cultural items; most of the latter are now housed at the Sioux Indian Museum
in Rapid City.
Born in Sweden, John Anderson and his family moved to Pennsylvania and then homesteaded in Cherry County, Nebraska. As a teenager John apprenticed himself to a photographer at Fort Niobrara and served as the official government photographer for Crook Treaty Commission. In 1891, he began working at Jordan's Trading post on the Rosebud Reservation. He bought an interest in the trading post, married, and spent the next 42 years living and working with the Brule.
Anderson enjoyed a reputation as a humanitarian. He helped feed Indians during the all-too-frequent starving times before 1903. He may have acquired many Sioux artifacts as repayments for his kindnesses. Other items that became part of his large collection may have come into his possession as payments for trading post debts.
Anderson and his wife Myrtle moved to Rapid City to manage the Sioux Indian Museum. Admission was initially charged as it was a private museum. In 1938 Anderson sold his collection to the Office of Indian Affairs (now Bureau of Indian Affairs).
After retiring with his wife in Atascadero, Anderson died in 1948. His widow went to live with relatives in Ontario.
Source: Hamilton and Hamilton, Sioux of the Rosebud, pp. 3-13.