A North American Indian Boy
Edward S. Curtis, American, 1868 - 1952
In the late 1890s, Curtis began photographing members of Native American nations, documenting the traditional ways of life that were disappearing due to the American government's efforts to segregate or assimilate their populations. Native Americans were a favored subject of Pictorialist photographers, many of whom romanticized and depoliticized their plight. Between 1907 and 1930, Curtis published The North American Indian, a twenty-volume book set containing more than 2,000 photographs featuring eighty tribes. This work, like that of the Pictorialists, has been interpreted as both groundbreaking and controversial. This photograph of a youth is typical of Curtis's portrait style, emphasizing his sitter's intense expression and including details of traditional dress.