Faces of the Past
In 1906 a photographer named Edward S. Curtis started an immensely challenging project that took 20 years to complete. His goal was to travel the western United States and document Native American’s traditional life before it disappeared.
Curtis visited over 80 tribes, shot upwards of 40,000 photographs, made 10,000 wax cylinder recordings, and took massive amounts of notes and sketches. These were collated into a 20-volume set of books containing almost 2,000 photographs entitled “The North American Indian”. Over the century his work has been celebrated for its large scale documentary and artistic value but also criticized for perpetuating a myth of the “noble savage” by manipulating his images.
Take a moment to observe for yourself. Step back over 100 years to see just a few of the beautiful faces through the lens of Edward S. Curtis.
(All photos via Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis)