From 1899 to 1929, photographer Edward S. Curtis documented
Native Americans living west of the Mississippi, visiting more than
eighty tribes while seeking to photograph their original customs and
traditions. Below is a select sampling of the thousands of photos he
produced during his thirty-year career.
from a Bygone Era
Left - 'Bull Chief' (Apsaroke Tribe) wearing a
headdress with horns. Mid - Chief Joseph (Nez Percé) wearing
a war bonnet and several necklaces. Right - 'One Blue Bead' (Crow)
wearing a headdress and necklaces.
Left - 'Hollow Horn Bear' (Brulé). Mid
- A Mohave boy. Right - 'Two Leggings' (Apsaroke) holding a bow
Left - A dance to restore an eclipsed moon. Several
Kwakiutl people dance in a circle around a smoking fire, in an effort
to cause a sky creature, which they believe swallowed the moon, to sneeze,
thereby disgorging it. Mid - An offering to the sun by a Tewa
man with hands raised skyward, each holding a feather. Right
- A burial platform (Apsaroke).
Left - An Apsaroke man, leaning back with strips
of leather attached to his chest and tethered to a pole secured by rocks,
all part of the piercing ritual of the Sun Dance. Mid - Two Dakota
men singing deeds of valor while playing hand drums. Right -
Invocation by a Sioux man, wearing a breechcloth, holding a pipe, with
his right hand raised skyward.
Left - Arikara shamans, seated in a semi-circle
around a sacred cedar tree. Mid - Two Qagyuhl canoes pulled ashore
containing a wedding party, with bride and groom standing on the "bride's
seat" in the stern, while a relative of the bride dances on a platform
in the bow. Right - Tewa people, dancing in line formation, performing
a Tablita (corn) Dance.
Left - A Kwakiutl person wearing mask of the mythical
creature Pgwis (man of the sea). Mid - A Kwakiutl person wearing
an oversized mask and hands representing the forest spirit Nuhlimkilaka
("bringer of confusion"). Right - Ceremonial mask worn
by a Qagyuhl dancer portraying the hunter in Bella Bella mythology who
killed the giant man-eating octopus.
Left - 'Holds The Enemy' (Apsaroke) wearing several
shell necklaces, a beaded pouch about his waist, and holding a tomahawk.
Mid - During the winter ceremony, Kwakiutl dancers, wearing masks
and costumes, crouch in the foreground with others behind them. The
Chief on the far left holds a speaker's staff. Three totem poles are
seen in the background. Right - A Tlakluit woman, wearing a heavily
beaded buckskin dress, several necklaces, beads, shells, dentalium-shell
nose ornament and a headdress of beads and hollow-centered Chinese coins.
Left - A Qagyuhl man dressed in a full-body bear
costume to guard the dance house. Mid - A Qagyuhl ceremonial
dancer, wearing a mask and fur garments during the Winter Dance ceremony.
Right - A Navajo man in hemlock boughs and the mask of a clown
associated with the mischievous rain god Tonenili ("Water Sprinkler").
Left - A Dakota man, wearing a war bonnet, with
his left hand outstretched toward others on horseback. Mid -
A Nez Percé scout, seated on his horse in a rocky area and holding
a coup stick. Right - Several Oglala men, many wearing war bonnets,
on horseback riding down hill.
Left - A Paviotso man standing on a rock, fishing
with a spear in Walker Lake, Nevada. Mid - A Skokomish couple
outside a house made of reed mats. Right - Two Apsarokes on horseback
at their snow-covered winter camp.
Left - Two San Juan women dipping baskets of wheat
into an acequia, or irrigation ditch, to dissolve dirt and to float
away debris from the wheat kernels. Mid - A Piegan girl standing
outside a child-sized tipi. Right - A Kootenai man hunting ducks
while seated in the bow of a canoe, nestled in sparse rushes.
Left - An Apache woman harvesting wheat with a
hand sickle. Mid - Mandan berry gatherers. Right - An
Acoma girl watches as another girl fills a pottery vessel with water
from a pool.
Left - A Navajo shaman gives medicine as two others
look on. Mid - An Apsaroke woman scraping a hide that is secured
to the ground by stakes. Right - A Koskimo man using a fire drill.
Left - Crow men on horseback apparently involved
in a swap. Mid - An Apache woman, holding an infant in a cradleboard
on her lap. Right - A group of Apache men listening and looking
on as one member of the party tells a story while marking the ground
with a stick.
Left - A Paviotso man marking the side of a glacial
boulder that already has petroglyphs on it. Mid - A Hopi woman
seated on a mat while painting designs on pottery. Right - A
Nunivak ivory carver.
Left - Feast day at a Pueblo village. Mid
- A Flathead camp on the Jocko River, with the Rocky Mountains in the
background. Right - King Island village, with houses on stilts
on a terraced cliff above the water.
Left - Two riders on horseback meet each other
on the old Acoma Trail, a passageway between rock formations in New
Mexico. Mid - A Klamath chief in ceremonial headdress standing
on a hill overlooking a lake. Right - Seven Navajo riders on
horseback trek against a background of cliffs at Canon de Chelly, Arizona.
Left - Two Pima women harvesting "hasen",
a sweet, pear-sized fruit from the giant Saguaro cactus, which may be
eaten fresh or dried, could also be used to make syrup or wine. Mid
- Horses wading in water next to a Crow tipi encampment on the Little
Big Horn. Right - A Tewa man, standing high on a cliff, arms
stretched before him as he sprinkles cornmeal as an offering at the
start of a day.
and Caption Credits: Courtesy Library of Congress
Copyright © 2007 The History
Place All Rights Reserved
home/school non-commercial, non-Internet re-usage only is allowed of
any text, graphics, photos, audio clips, other electronic files or materials
from The History Place.
History Place Main Page | American Revolution
| Abraham Lincoln | U.S.
Civil War | U.S. in World War
II in the Pacific | John F.
Kennedy Photo History | The
Rise of Adolf Hitler | The
Triumph of Hitler | Defeat of Hitler | Timeline
of World War II in Europe | Holocaust
Timeline | Photo of the Week |
This Month in History
| Advertise | Send