Native Americans: Portraits From a Century Ago

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Curtis secured funding from J.P. Morgan, and visited more than 80 tribes over the next 20 years, taking more than 40,000 photographs, 10,000 wax cylinder recordings, and huge volumes of notes and sketches. The end result was a 20-volume set of books illustrated with nearly 2,000 photographs, titled "The North American Indian." In the hundred-plus years since the first volume was published, Curtis's depictions have been both praised and criticized. The sheer documentary value of such a huge and thorough project has been celebrated, while critics of the photography have objected to a perpetuation of the myth of the "noble savage" in stage-managed portraits. Step back now, into the early 20th century, and let Edward Curtis show you just a few of the thousands of faces he viewed through his lens.

 

Portrait of a Native American named Big Head, ca. 1905

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


At left, Yellow Bull of the Nez Perce. At right, a Hopi Girl, ca. 1905

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Six Navajo on horseback, ca. 1904

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: A Mojave man, wearing a robe of rabbit skin, ca. 1907. Right: A young Yakima man, shell disk earrings, ca. 1910

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Zosh Clishn, Apache, ca. 1906. Right: Bear Bull, illustrating an ancient Blackfoot method of arranging the hair.

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Jajuk, Selawik from northwestern Alaska, ca. 1929

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: A Navajo man in ceremonial dress as Nayenezgani, a Navajo deity. Right: Tobadzischini, Yebichai war god, ca. 1904

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Black Hair, ca. 1905. Right: Red Cloud, December 26, 1905

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Sitting Owl, Hidatsa, 1908. Right: A Taos girl, ca. 1905

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Cheyenne profile, ca. 1910. Right: Bull Chief, Apsaroke (Crow), ca. 1908

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Koskimo person, Kwakiutl, wearing a full-body fur garment, oversized gloves and mask of Hami ("dangerous thing") during the Numhlim ceremony. ca. 1914. Right: Hamasilahl, Kwakiutl, ceremonial dancer during the Winter Dance ceremony.

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Nunivak Island man, wearing headdress with a wooden bird head in front, ca. 1929. Right: Mosa, Mojave, ca. 1903

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Wife of Modoc Henry, Klamath tribe, on June 30, 1923. Right: Three Eagles, Nez Perce, ca. 1910

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Morning Eagle, Piegan, ca. 1910. Right: Tah It Way, with peace pipe on right, ca. 1905

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Bird Rattle, Piegan, ca. 1910. Right: Nesjaja Hatali, medicine man, Navajo, ca. 1904

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Wedding guests, Kwakiutl people in canoes, British Columbia, ca. 1914

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Let: Pah Toi (White Clay), Taos, New Mexico, ca. 1905. Right: A Kato woman, California, ca. 1924

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Ben Long Ear, ca. 1905. Right: Hastobiga, Navajo Medicine Man, ca. 1904

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis


Left: Slow Bull's wife, Dakota, ca. 1907. Right: Pomo girl, California

Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/

This article is only publisher's viewpoint.

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