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February 22, 2013

30 Rare Vintage Photographs Document Everyday Life of North American Indians From the 1900s

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.

(Photos by Edward S. Curtis, Curtis (Edward S.) Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)


  1. Fascinating! What a beautiful and rich culture, I am so glad to see these photographs.

  2. I am North American Indian I remember fresh water fruits and fresh meats, a clean Earth with clean air without chemicals. We lived off the land and at this time Society did not accept this way of Life now they are busy trying to preserve this Earth which is dying in a sense. Still the Earth will labor to clean itself as always it has. This earth has survived many times gone past and will continue to long after we are gone. Be kind to this earth, this World is the land our children must live from.




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