While Johnny Depp has admitted he based his Tonto make-up on Kirby Sattler’s painting and not on historical fact it may come as no surprise to some that birds were sometimes incorporated in real-life American Indian tribes. The Library of Congress archive of Curtis’ The North American Indian features this Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) photograph of ”Two Whistles” taken in 1908, showing a medicine of hawk attached to the head of a Mountain Crow Indian.
Born in 1856 of the Not Mixed clan “Two Whistles” fought battles against the Arapaho and Sioux. In 1887 after being shot in the arm and breast the arm was amputated above the elbow.
Source: The North American Indian (1907-1930) v.04, The Apsaroke, or Crows. The Hidatsa ([Seattle] : E.S. Curtis ; [Cambridge, Mass. : The University Press], 1909), plate no. 111
Read more: Indian Country