Edward Curtis - The North American Indian
“In 1906, J. P. Morgan provided Curtis with $75,000 to produce a series on the North American Indian. The work was to be in 20 volumes with 1,500 photographs.
Morgan’s funds were to be disbursed over five years and were earmarked to support only fieldwork for the books, not for writing, editing, or production of the volumes. Curtis himself would receive no salary for the project, which was to last more than 20 years.
Curtis’s goal was not just to photograph, but to document, as much American Indian (Native American) traditional life as possible before it disappeared.
He wrote in the introduction to his first volume in 1907:
The information that is to be gathered…respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost.
Curtis made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Indian language and music.
He took over 40,000 photographic images from over 80 tribes.
He recorded tribal lore and history, and he described traditional foods, housing, garments, recreation, ceremonies, and funeral customs.
He wrote biographical sketches of tribal leaders, and his material, in most cases, is the only written recorded history although there is still a rich oral tradition that documents history.”
1. Klamath Indian at Crater Lake
2. Two Whistles, Apsaroke
3. Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon
7. Bear Bull - Blackfoot
8. Red Cloud
9. Apache Gaun
10. Offering to the Sun - San Ildefonso
What a picture of Indian character this affords: a mere infant starting out alone into the fastnesses of the mountain wilds, to commune with the spirits of the infinite, a tiny child sitting through the night on a lonely mountain-top, reaching out its infant’s hands to God! On distant and near-by hills howl the coyote and the wolf. In the valleys and on the mountain side prowl and stalk all manner of animals. Yet alone by the little fire sits the child listening to the mysterious voices of the night.