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Native Americans in The Early 1900’s by Edward S. Curtis

Native Americans in The Early 1900’s by Edward S. Curtis

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Edward S.Curtis was an American photographer and ethnologist whose work focused on the American West and on Native Americans. He is an American hero who brought into the spotlight via photography, the origins, and history of North America before it changed forever beyond recognition. Throughout his 30-year-long travels across America, his photos have touched viewers the world over. Today, Edwar S. Curtis is believed to be one of the most widely viewed, collected and exhibited photographer in the world.

Edward S. Curtis

Edward S. Curtis

To help in this decades-long endeavor, J.P. Morgan funded Curtis with $75,000 in order to produce a series on Native Americans. His work was to be made into two volumes with some 1,500 photographs. Morgan’s funds were to be disbursed over a period of five years and were earmarked to support only the fieldwork for the books, not the actual writing , editing or production of the volumes. During this entire time, Curtis received no salary, and under the terms of the above-mentioned sum of money, Morgan was to receive 25 sets and 500 original prints in return.

In total, 222 complete sets were published, and after Curtis secured the funding from Morgan, was able to hire several men to help him in his task. Curtis’ mission wasn’t just to photograph the Native Americans, but also to write and document as much as possible about their way of life before it completely disappeared.

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Curtis also made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American language and music and took over 40,000 images of members from 80 different tribes. His work had a great deal to say and changed the way the entire nation looked at Native Americans. This, mind you, was at a time when many people were openly advocating for the extinction of all Native Americans from the continent. His images have also moved and inspired extraordinarily broad and diverse audiences, transcending economic, cultural, social, educational, and national boundaries.

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