Edward S. Curtis
THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN. LIST OF LARGE PLATES SUPPLEMENTING V. 1-20. n. p.; n. d.

A set of 20 portfolios of numbered plates, supplement to the multi-volume publication The North American Indian: Being a Series of Volumes Picturing and Describing the Indians of the United States, and Alaska; Written, Illustrated, and Published by Edward S. Curtis; Edited by Frederick Webb Hodge; Foreword by Theodore Roosevelt; Field Research Conducted Under the Patronage of J. Pierpont Morgan and published in Seattle by E.S. Curtis; and in Cambridge, Massachusetts by The University Press, 1907-30.

In a Piegan Lodge, 1910, Volume Six, Plate 188
In a Piegan Lodge, 1910
Volume Six, Plate 188
[xffE77 C8 v.6 pl. 188]

Little Plume with his son Yellow Kidney occupies the position of honor, the space at the rear opposite the entrance. The picture is full of suggestion of the various Indian activities. In a prominent place lie the ever-present pipe and its accessories on the tobacco cutting board. From the lodge-poles hang the buffalo-skin shield, the long medicine bundle, an eagle-wing fan, and deerskin articles for accoutering the horse. The upper end of the rope is attached to the intersection of the lodge-poles, and in stormy weather the lower end is made fast to a stake near the centre of the floor space.

In 1896, Edward S. Curtis began a project to record on film and text all available information on North American Indians. With financial support from J. Pierpont Morgan, Curtis continued this effort through 1930. In the course of his work Curtis created 40,000 negatives, with the majority of images prepared on glass plates. The result is a book of twenty volumes; each accompanied by a portfolio of plates.

Curtis sought to complete his work before the "vanishing race" of American Indians disappeared from the continent. This body of work has engaged historians, anthropologists, other scholars, and, most notably Native Americans, in an ongoing debate about the nature of documentary photography.

Curtis, with his stylized, romantic photographs generated great interest in the Native American as the "noble savage." The authenticity of the Curtis inventory, however, remains a crucial question to many observers. Do these images perpetuate a myth and reinforce a stereotype? Are the images more illuminating of the person who created the image, rather than the intended subject? As historian Gerald Vizenor writes, are photographs a poor and damaging substitute for the narrative? Are these Indians "the wounded fugitives of the camera?"

EARLY
ETHNOGRAPHY
(8 of 17)

PREVIOUSNEXT

EXHIBITION
HOME

PORTRAYALS
OF NATIVE
AMERICANS

THE NINE
MILLIONTH
VOLUME

TIMELINE

EXHIBITION
CHECKLIST



| Bancroft Home | General Information | Collections | Research Programs |
| Reference and Access Services | News, Events, Exhibitions, Publications |
| Friends of The Bancroft Library | Site Map | Search The Bancroft Library Website |
| UC Berkeley Library Home | Catalogs | Search the Library Website |
Copyright (C) 2006 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Document maintained by The Bancroft Library.
Last update 12/08/06. Server manager: Contact