“This man only wants to force his own ideas on the photos, to publish them in books and to show them to everyone so that people will think he’s a great photographer. He does whatever he wants with indigenous peoples. It is not true that indigenous peoples are about to die out. We will be around for a long time, fighting for our land, living in this world and continuing to create our children.”
Here’s a novel concept: we don’t need saving. And we’re not going anywhere.
In 1906, etiologist and photographer Edward S. Curtis set out across the United States to draw, photograph and otherwise document the lives of Native Americans that hadn’t yet been contacted by Western society.
Funded by J.P. Morgan, he would return 20 years later with over 40,000 photographs, which he used to illustrate his famous 20 volume series “The North American Indian.” Only 222 complete sets were ever published (one of which sold last year for $1.44M at auction) and even though it has been criticized by some as misrepresenting the Native American culture at the time, its value as a documentary publication is enormous.
Edward S. Curtis, 1868-1952, photographer / c1914 November 13. / Nuhlimkilaka–Koskimo / Kwakiutl person wearing an oversize mask and hands representing a forest spirit, Nuhlimkilaka, (“bringer of confusion”) [***]