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February 7, 2022

The Chief’s Daughter of the Laguna Pueblo: Extraordinary Vintage Portraits of Loti-kee-yah-tede From the 1900s

Loti-kee-yah-tede, was the chief’s daughter of the Laguna Pueblo, when she was photographed wearing Ka-waik clothing with a belt and beaded necklaces by Carl Moon in about 1905. The Laguna Pueblo is located in the semi-arid lands west-central New Mexico, near Albuquerque.


Carl E. Moon was born in Wilmington, Ohio in 1878. After graduation from high school, he served two years with the Ohio National Guard before apprenticing with various photographers in Ohio, West Virginia and Texas. He moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1903, where he set up a photography studio and began making “art studies” of the Native Americans of the Southwest, both in photographs and in oil paintings, sometimes living for weeks at a time in Navajo villages.

From 1905-1906, Moon had a short-lived partnership in Albuquerque with businessman Thomas F. Keleher, called the Moon-Keleher Studio. After the partnership dissolved, Moon continued working, photographing carefully selected Indian “subjects” in a romantic, posed style. His photographs began appearing in magazines and he exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in New York. President Theodore Roosevelt invited Moon to exhibit his Native American photographs at the White House.

In 1907, Moon signed a contract with the Fred Harvey Company to produce photographs for what would be the Fred Harvey Collection of Southwest Indian Pictures. Beginning in 1911, he operated out of El Tovar Studio in the Grand Canyon. While employed by the Fred Harvey Co., he also worked as a photographer for the Santa Fe Railroad. For seven years, from 1907 to 1914, Moon photographed the native people of the Southwest, in his studio and in their villages. His images appeared (often uncredited) in brochures and publications for both companies.

Moon resigned from Fred Harvey Co. in 1914, and he and his second wife, Grace Purdie Moon, moved to Pasadena, California, where he continued to work as a photographer and painter. In 1923, Henry E. Huntington purchased from Moon 293 large, mounted photographic prints and 12 oil paintings (12 more paintings were purchased in 1925). This remains the largest and most complete collection of Carl Moon's work extant.

In 1924, Moon began work on “Indians of the Southwest,” a set of 100 of his finest prints. Published in 1936, only ten copies were ever produced. With his wife Grace, he also wrote and illustrated many children’s books about the Indians of the Southwest. Moon died in 1948, in San Francisco, at the home of his daughter.










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