1908 – An Apsaroke mother and child.
1907 – Luzi, of the Papago tribe
1900 – Piegan chiefs
1908 – Medicine Crow, of the Apsaroke tribe
1910 – A Wishran girl
1923 – A Hupa spear fisherman watches for salmon
1914 – A Qagyuhl woman wears a fringed Chilkat blanket and a mask representing a deceased relative who had been a shaman
1914 – Hakalahl, a Nakoaktok chief
1910 – A Kutenai duck hunter
1904 – Nesjaja Hatali, Navajo medicine man
1910 – Members of the Qagyuhl tribe dance to restore an eclipsed moon
1904 – Nayenezgani, a Navajo man
1910 – A Kwakiutl chief’s daughter
1900 – Iron Breast, a Piegan man
1908 – Black Eagle, an Assiniboin man
This gargantuan project was requested and financed by the wealthy businessman J.P. Morgan, who approached Curtis in 1906. The conclusion to this quest was a 20-volume series, called The North American Indian.
Even if Curtis meddled a bit with the subjects of his photos, posing them in more romanticized settings, stripped of any signs of Western civilization to archive the pre-Columbian look rather than the actual situation, it’s still a one-of-a-kind work, documenting the vanishing lifestyle that we probably won’t see ever again.