In 1906, American photographer Edward S. Curtis was offered $75,000 to document North American Indians. The benefactor, J.P Morgan, was to receive 25 sets of the completed series of 20 volumes with 1,500 photographs entitled The North American Indian. Curtis set out to photograph the North American Indian way of life at a time when Native Americans were being forced from their land and stripped of their rights. Curtis’ photographs depicted a romantic version of the culture which ran contrary to the popular view of Native Americans as savages.
Below are selected images of the Native American way of life chosen from The Library of Congress’s Edward S. Curtis Collection. Some were published in The North American Indian but most were not published.
(Photographs by Edward S. Curtis, Curtis (Edward S.) Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., via Plog)