Photographs from the National Museum of the American Indian
Native American have been among the most popular subjects of photography since the invention of the medium more than 150 years ago. As cameras became more widely available during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, not only well-known photographers but also ethnologists, archaeologists, and social workers raced to document the continent's "vanishing" indigenous peoples. One of the era's most assiduous collectors of Native American objects and images was George Gustav Heye, whose vast collections now form the core of the holdings of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). From early daguerreotypes to contemporary color slides, the nearly 90,000 works in the museum's photo archive offer a view of American Indian life throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Spirit Capture brings together more than two hundred of the most compelling images from the NMAI collection with essays from Native and non-Native historians, anthropologists, and curators. Natasha Bonilla Martinez describes the sometimes intrusive tactics of field photographers, who in quest of authenticity, shot forbidden ceremonies or coerce unwilling subjects to pose. Richard W. Hill, Sr., shows how formal portraits of once-feared leaders such as Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, and Red Cloud effectively transformed their subjects into icons. Linda Poolaw takes a personal approach to a selection of photographs by her father Horace Poolaw and others, speaking to their subjects and evoking the texture of their lives.
206 pp ~ 21 color photos ~ 190 b/w photos — ©1998