PHOTOGRAPHY OF NATIVE AMERICANS BY
ANGLO AMERICANS, FROM 1850 1920,
WITH AN EMPHASIS ON COLORADO.
Mark K. Smith
B.S. Rochester Institute of Technology 1973
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Humanities
This thesis for the Master of Humanities
Mark K. Smith
has been approved
Nnusjnhtr ll} 2.0Q\
Smith, Mark K. (Master of Humanities)
Photography Of Native Americans By Anglo Americans, From 1850 -1920,
With An Emphasis On Colorado.
Thesis directed by Dr. Margaret Woodhull
Anglo Americans photographers were amongst the many people that came
to Colorado starting in 1850. In addition to photographing the landscape,
people, especially Native Americans, were common subjects for a variety of
reasons. Some reasons were money. Other motives included curiosity and
anthropology. Who the photographers were influenced how they approached
their subjects as well as how they represented them visually. Photographers
many times interpreted their subjects and wrote captions on the front or back
of the image that reflected their interpretation.
The subjects' motivation for having their picture taken was diverse as well.
Some wanted their picture taken to preserve their image in time. In other
cases, photographers pursued their subjects, especially those subjects who
had bad prior experiences with photographers, in paparazzi style. Some
photographers paid their subjects in money and others in trinkets. Little was
written regarding how those subjects saw themselves in a photograph or how
they interpreted their own image, if they were the intended viewer.
If someone else was the viewer, the motivation was wide-ranging as well.
Literature and painting started the desire for Native American images. Books
such as The Last of the Mohicans and "Indian Galleries" started by painters
created Anglo Americans' craving for images. Photography became the fuel on
the fire, as the images were more real to the viewer than anything produced in
a book or painting. Moreover, new photographic end-results, such as the carte
de visite and the stereograph, made acquisition of a wide variety of images
economically possible for many viewers.
Many photographers and viewers believed Native Americans were a
vanishing race, destined for extinction at worst and assimilation at best. The
photographs represented in most cases what was thought to be the end of
some era. A few photographers embraced the change and sought to show
Native Americans not for what they were but who they were becoming and
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. THE RISE OF THE PUBLIC'S DESIRE FOR IMAGES .........8
The Evolution of Photography............16
The First Photographs...................22
III. NATIONAL AND COLORADO PHOTOGRAPHERS................34
IV. CONCLUSION ........................................79
LIST OF FIGURES
II The Trappers Bride........................................14
III Peter Jones, The Ojibwa Minister, In Scotland.............22
IV Ojibwa Missionary Peter Jones In Scotland.................22
V Timoteo Ha'alilio.........................................24
VI Keokuk Or The Watchful Fox................................26
VII Cheyenne Indian Village, Big Timber.......................28
VIII Black Kettle And Chiefs At Denver.........................39
IX Camp Weld Council, Denver.................................40
X Native American Man.......................................42
XI Johnson, Ute Medicine Man.................................43
XII Ouray, Head Chief Of Southern Utes........................44
XIII Chief Peah And Family On Southern Ute
XIV Ute Indians At The Denver Expo............................58
XV Group Of Ute Indians......................................60
XVI Ute Bride And Groom.......................................61
XVII Elote, Subchief Of Apaches................................62
XVIII Ah-Ne-Pitch, Tom-As Cita, Ma-Rez..........................63
XIX Zuni Woman Preparing To Grind Cornmeal....................64
XX Navajo Mother.............................................65
XXI In the Glow of the Campfire...............................66
XXII They Gave Me The Laugh And I Took It Snapped With A Folding
XXIII Ute Group Portrait........................................68
XXIV Ute Indians Amusing Colorado Tourists.....................68
XXV Chief Ouray's Squaw, Chipeta..............................69
XXVI Ute Indian Musicians......................................70
XXVII Chief Piah Selected By Bureau Of Ethnology As Typical Ute.71
XXVIII Indian Chief..............................................74
XXX Boy With Sheep............................................76
XXXI Navaho Woman Child And Lambs..............................77
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
The first time I came west from New York was in 1973.1 was on my
honeymoon. My understanding of the sights and people of Colorado came
from stories I had read and pictures I had seen. It was those stories and
images, provided by the TV, newspapers, magazines, the songs of John
Denver, and information from friends that drove the passion in me to come to
Colorado. For one who loves to photograph people and nature, Colorado
seemed like Utopia. I eventually moved alone permanently in 1975, leaving
behind family in search of what seemed my destiny. Many have done this very
same thing with the "imagined" Colorado, especially photographers who
photographed Native Americans over a century ago.
I will be looking at not only why those photographers came to Colorado but
also what caused them and other national photographers to photograph
Native Americans, why Native Americans posed for them, and why people
wanted to purchase those images. I will also look at what preceded the
photography, literature and painting, as those mediums were influential in
preparing the desire for images of Native Americans as well as influencing
those photographers who took those images. However, photography is unique
in that it has the capability to be not only a fine art but also a more effective
tool for scientific, bureaucratic, and documentary purposes. In photography's
beginnings, as a child might imitate his or her parents, photography would
imitate art that came before. Between 1850 and 1920, photography matured
and changed, giving an ever increasing vision of what it could (or could not)
do. Photographer Edward Steichen noted, "[p]hotography is a major force in
explaining man to man and man to himself."1 New processes continued to
evolve during this time that made the photographic process easier and placed
the camera into the hands of not only artists but tourists as well, which affects
the result. Often a tourist will record images more honestly than artist.
Additionally, increasing and varying were the subjects, the environment those
subjects were photographed in, and who would eventually view those images,
both public and private. This thesis will delve more into the public images.
Many of the first photographers were national photographers who came
from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some were Civil War veterans and others
were ethnographers. The railroads and the United States government hired a
few to be on survey crews. Survey photographers, while primarily
photographing the landscape, understood the commercial possibilities of
photographing Native Americans. A few photographers genuinely cared about
Native Americans and their problems. While most photographers were male,
two women photographers are included. Some of the national photographers
1 Edward Steichen Time 7 Apr 61.
passed through Colorado, although some did stay. The stories of all were as
varied and wide as were their subjects. As with any visual medium, it is
important to examine who the photographers were as people, in addition to
examining their images.
Much is in writing on the national photographers including scholarly texts,
books, and from museums such as the National Museum of the American
Indian. Anglo American photographers presented differing visions of Native
Americans to Americans depending on their perception. This thesis does not
differ from that which has been written as the evidence supporting that
observation is compelling. However, my thesis is unique from the rest because
it is narrowed down to Colorado photographers. Both the Denver Public
Library and the Colorado Historical Society (CHS) have produced some
wonderful portrait exhibits on the photography of Native Americans. The
closest in character to my thesis was the recent CHS exhibit Facing our Past;
Portraits of Colorado American Indians. Unfortunately, it was a small part of
a much larger exhibit. With the large amount of reading involved, many,
except for me, may have overlooked it. This thesis, regardless of how
widespread it may or may not end up, is important to me. Photography has
been my passion from age eight and my high school was across the street from
the Tuscarora Native American reservation, which provided many classmates
with whom I interacted.
The predominant Native American cultures in Colorado from 1850 to 1920
were the Ute, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne. The subjects found in the images may
have been some famous chief, a warrior, a scout, or a medicine man. Subjects
were young or old, men or women, or known or unknown. Their dress was
original, contemporary, or a mix of the two. Native American attitudes toward
being a subject ran the gamut from wanting to be in the images, such as Ouray
and Geronimo,2 3 to those who did not, which supported the popular Anglo
stereotype regarding some superstitious fear.3 In the middle were subjects the
photographers would coerce through words, trinkets, and/or money and
additionally posing those subjects.
In addition to examining the photographers and their subjects, also
important is learning who might purchase the images, for much photography
was commercially driven. The specific identification of the viewers of these
images is unknown for the most part, although they could be Native
American, Anglo American, or both. Images of people have always intrigued
most viewers. Viewers had (and still have) a desire for what they wanted to
look at. The viewer of a person in a photograph had the ability to examine the
subject without restraint, unlike if the two were to meet in real life. Viewers
2 At the St. Louis World's Fair, Geronimo charged 25 cents to have his picture taken and was
allowed to keep 10 cents. Martha Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend: Photography and the
American West. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 230.
3 Ibid, 219.
could compare and contrast at will. The images of Native Americans invited
fascination in the Anglo American, due to the subject being different. The
initial curiosity toward Native Americans by Anglo Americans and Europeans
came prior to photography through drawings, literature, sculpture, and
paintings, some influenced by stereotyped images. This art made its way to
public places but did not completely satisfy the curiosity of the white
population. Photographs provided a more accurate portrayal of this
mysterious population than stereotyped art did.
As the medium of photography changed, it provided new processes. This
required that photographers keep pace with technology and the desires of the
new viewers. Also changing from 1850 to 1920 was the ease of getting images
into the hands of those who would purchase them. This put photography in a
good position to compete with books, paintings, drawings and lithographs.
Photographers gained knowledge in how to make their images tell a story
rather than record something seen, although even in those first images a
viewer can grasp some idea of the thoughts and feelings of the photographer
and/or subject. With the advent of paper images, the photographer, or
someone who sold the image, if it was not the photographer, could add words
to the image, which would influence the viewers' perception and
interpretation of the image. In addition, a photograph's meaning might
change over time. Later viewers often misperceived the looks on subjects'
faces to mean the subject was sad or unhappy when they were only sitting still
for a long exposure.
The images examined have three participants: the subject, without whom
the image cannot exist, the photographer, and the viewer. Roland Barthes, in
Camera Lucida calls them respectively the spectum (as in spectacle), the
operator, and the spectator.^ There also exists a triangle of raison d'etre
behind the image with regard to the subject, maker, and viewer. They are
motivation, interpretation, and perception. This happens whether the
medium is painting, drawing, or photography. Each person, the subject,
photographer, and viewer, can ultimately be different on each but all need
each other to complete the image. It is possible that subject, maker, and
viewer of a photograph can be the same or all three can be different. However,
this thesis will assume that there are at least two, i.e., the photographer and
subject are two different people, as one person in all three roles would
constitute a self-portrait for personal use. Each participant, therefore, has his
or her own motivation, interpretation, and perception regarding the process
and result. In the case of the subject and motivation, I will avoid
psychoanalytic questions, such as why does a subject desire (assuming they
do) to be photographed? 4
4 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1980), 9.
I will use the theories of Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag, both critics on
photography. Information derived from Barthes comes from his book Camera
Lucida. Information from Sontag comes using her book On Photography.
Both authors deal with critical evaluations and theorization regarding the
interpretation of images, their makers, and their viewers. Surprisingly,
neither was a photographer; and, in fact, Camera Lucida was Barthes only
book on photography.
CHAPTER II THE RISE OF THE PUBLICS DESIRE FOR IMAGES
The influence of literature and painting plus the evolution of photography.
Literature and popular perceptions of Native Americans played a large part
in creating a public desire for their images. Many consider James Fenimore
Cooper's popularly read novel The Last of the Mohicans, published first in
1826, to be one of the most influential in generating the public craving for
pictures of Native Americans. Cooper produced several more books with
similar themes. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Song of Hiawatha,
based on the legends of the Ojibway, is another influence. Alexander Hesler's
1852 daguerreotype of Minnehaha Falls supposedly inspired, at least in part,
The Song of Hiawatha.^
As literature helped to create a public desire for images of Native
Americans, so too did painting. In addition, it is important to include painting
as some techniques used in painting, such as classical poses for portraits and
the use of line, shape, texture, and light, were what photographers used 5
5 Nancy Hathaway, Native American Portraits 1862 -1918. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books,
initially when taking studio portraits of Native Americans.
One example of early studio painting of Native Americans happened in the
early nineteenth century when Thomas L. McKenney, Superintendent of
Indian Trade (and later Superintendent of Indian Affairs), commissioned
Charles Bird King to paint a portrait of Midwestern chiefs visiting Washington
for a series of treaty negotiations. King continued painting Native Americans
for another twenty years. Yet another painter, George Catlin, overshadowed
his efforts. Catlin considered the Native Americans a dying race.
I have for many years past, contemplated the noble races of red men who
are... melting away at the approach of civilization. ...and I have flown to
their rescue not of their lives or their race (for they are 'doomed' and must
perish), but to the rescue of their looks and their modes,...[that], phoenix-
like they may rise again from the 'stain on a painter's palette,' and live again
upon canvass, and stand forth for centuries to come, the living monuments
of a noble race.6 7
There was good cause to believe the stories regarding the dying race theory.
Anglo Americans forced tribes in the east to move west. The fur trade brought
diseases in the 1830s. As the Cherokees were forced to march west during the
winter of 1838, in what was eventually known as the Trail of Tears, 25% of
their group perished before they reached their destination.7 Later, in the mid
1800s, as the Gold Rush in both California and Colorado introduced new
diseases, like cholera and smallpox, to Native Americans, their numbers
6 George Catlin, Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North
American Indians Volume I. (New York: Dover Publications, 1973), 16.
7 Tom Robotham, Native Americans in Early Photographs. (Leicester: Magna Books, 1994),
continued to decline. This influx of the white man also cut off Native
Americans from their food supplies.
Catlin's initial interest for Native Americans stemmed from growing up in
an area of Pennsylvania Native Americans once occupied where he would
search for artifacts and listen to stories told about them, not all of which were
pleasant. Although he was initially a lawyer, Catlin started sketching images of
those present in the courtroom. He eventually received some instruction in
painting and ended up in Philadelphia supporting himself painting miniature
portraits. He was unable to compete with more classically trained artists for
large commissions, so his interest in Native Americans opened up a niche
market he thought he might fill. In his travels to make lithographs of the
newly completed Erie Canal, he met Seneca Chief, Red Jacket. Catlin painted
a portrait of Red Jacket in 1826 but deemed him too tame, compared to other
Native Americans, in his log house with stone fireplace.8 He made a trip to
Washington to paint a delegation of Winnebagos where he met McKenney
and Secretary of War, Peter B. Porter. Perhaps it was realizing how the Anglo
Americans influenced the Native Americans living in the east, such as Red
Jacket, that spurred him to paint the Native Americans in the west before they
too, changed forever. Catlin headed for St. Louis in 1830, armed with the
encouragement of McKenney, and a letter of introduction from Secretary
8 Robert J. Moore, JrNative Americans A Portrait The Art and Travels of Charles Bird
King, George Catlin, and Karl Bodmer. (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1997), 125.
Porter to William Clark. After the two met, Clark provided Catlin with
necessary maps, a pass to enter into Native American country, and moral
support. After practicing his painting on local tribes, Catlin headed out on
what was to be his first of four adventures between 1832 and 1836.9 Catlin's
trips took him into what became the Dakotas, Montana, Kansas, Oklahoma,
New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Catlin eventually returned east with
In 1841, to sum up his travels, Catlin wrote a large, two-volume book titled
Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North
American Indians. He ended up financing the book on his own. In visiting
over 50 tribes, he gathered eight tons of belongings, amongst them a full outfit
from a Blackfoot medicine man. Lakotas and the Blackfeet, both of whom
worshipped the sun, saw the painter's ability to reproduce accurately their
likeness as good medicine. Mandans lined up to have their portraits done,
believing Catlin to be a person with great medicine. One unnamed Lakota
chief convinced the others that Catlin's medicine was good and not evil.9 10
Catlin's fame, and mention in books such as Print the Legend11 and Spirit
Capture,12 appears to come from his "Indian Gallery." The Indian Gallery
9 Ibid., 131.
10 Ibid., 142-143.
11 Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend: Photography and the American West, 78-80.
12 Tim Johnson, ed. Spirit Capture; Photographs from the National Museum of the American
Indian, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.) 117.
came about due to Catlin's quest to inform the public that the Native
Americans were neither noble warriors nor bloodthirsty savages; rather, they
were only different. Catlin assembled his paintings and eight tons of collected
belongings and, using a mix of art, theater, and entertainment, presented his
paintings in venues, giving a brief lecture on each painting. As his popularity
grew, he toured in larger venues, eventually going to Washington in an
attempt to persuade Congress to purchase his collection. When Congress
declined, Catlin took his Indian Gallery to London in 1840 where it became a
success in part due to the writings of James Fenimore Cooper and the widely
held notion that extinction was imminent for Native Americans. *3 As the
popularity of the exhibition declined, Catlin met Canadian Arthur Rankin who
was touring with nine Ojibwas doing one of the first "Wild West" shows. The
two joined forces and gave a show for Queen Victoria. A much-publicized
exhibition followed. In between shows, Catlin arranged sightseeing for the
Ojibwas in London dressed in their native attire and face paint. This assisted
in increasing the attendance at the exhibitions. The partnership eventually
dissolved but, with the help of P.T. Barnum, 16 Ioways replaced the Ojibwas
in the exhibition. Daguerreotypes taken of the group commemorated it. *4
'3 Ibid., 117.
^Johnson, ed., Spirit Capture; Photographs from the National Museum of the American
The Indian Gallery shaped and molded the public response to Catlin's work
and displayed Native Americans similar to Native American participation in
future World Exhibitions in Europe and the United States. He explained his
images meanings and gave significance where none was apparent. Catlin's
work demonstrated the innate possibilities of using his images to educate and
entertain a public eager for information of a little understood America. He
became an intermediary and self-professed historian between the Anglo and
Native Americans. Viewing his images, one can see his concern for them. His
painting of Keokuk depicts him as a bold warrior, contrasting the subject's
warm colors with the
His initial idealistic
attitude when he first
transformed into his
later quest to inform,
although his desire to
have his work
him from time to time. Certainly, American and European perceptions
influenced his images.
Q 1996 Srrntnsoruan Institution Courtesy National Museum of American Art
Figure I. George Catlin. "Keokuk." 1835. Courtesy National
Museum of American Art.
Catlin was never successful in persuading the United States government to
purchase his paintings and never did find financial success. His paintings
were purchased by Joseph Harrison to help alleviate Catlins's debt. Ironically,
his paintings eventually did make it into the Smithsonian when Harrison's
widow donated them. Eventually one prominent Colorado photographer
would reference Catlin's Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and
Conditions of North American Indians and another would give talks in an
"Indian Gallery" style showing photographs.
In addition to Catlin and King, John Mix Stanley was a notable painter of
Unfortunately, fire destroyed
200 of Stanley's paintings at the
Smithsonian in 1865. In
Canada, Paul Kane also was
doing this work. Stanley and
Kane had Indian Galleries
similar to Catlin's. Alfred Jacob
Miller actually entered into the
Rocky Mountains in the
Wyoming Territory area in 1837
for about six months. He traveled
with Captain William Drummond
Figure II Alfred Jacob Miller.
"The Trapper's Bride." 1858. The Walters Art
Museum. Baltimore, MD.
Stewart of Scotland, drawing Native Americans, eventually returning to
Baltimore to do his paintings and watercolors.
Miller did not strive for the realistic depictions that Catlin did. Instead, he
romanticized his paintings, attempting to provide psychological insights into
his subjects. Millers paintings evoked emotion, mood, and sentimentality.
Unlike Catlin, Miller's initial images were painted more for Stewart to place in
his castle in Scotland rather than for viewing by the public. However, after
fulfilling this, Miller did return to Baltimore and painted Western images for
clients there. Also in contrast to Catlin, who envisioned a doomed race, Miller
seemed to have hope between Anglo and Native Americans in showing a
blending of the two races rather than an extinction of one. Finally, Miller's
images, such as The Trapper's Bride, appear to be symbols of the social
change amongst Anglo Americans of the time.
... The Trappers Bride is one of Millers most popular works ... This
interracial marriage, painted at a time when the issue of race and slavery
was dividing the Union, spoke to a romantic vision of universal brotherhood
and displayed a hope for the peaceful reconciliation of nature and
civilization. [And] ...represented the mountain mans escape from the
confines of Eastern society and sexual mores; indeed, marriages between
whites and Indians were forbidden by law in Millers home state and many
other states of the Union.'s
s "Among the Mountain Men ."American Eras. Gale Research Inc. 1997. Encyclopedia.com.
(February 22, 2009). http://www.encvclopedia.com doc TG2-2V^66oiirm.html.
The Evolution of Photography
Painters, such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Remington, increasingly
used the camera as a tool to aid their painting. Some painters gave up
painting entirely, became photographers, and applied many painting concepts
to their photography. Slowly photography of Native Americans replaced
painting and literature as the desire for images grew. As well, there was a
reduction in the number of Native Americans.
It is important to know what the specific photographic processes used in
the United States from 1850 to 1920 were. This determined what was involved
in getting an image and any limits presented, i.e., who might have desired to
be a photographer given the intricacy in taking and processing an image. The
photographic process also influenced who the subjects were and where they
were photographed. As were writers and painters, photographers were
observers making assessments about what they saw. Finally, the popular
processes of this time necessitated the format chosen by the photographer,
especially if he or she was shooting commercially.
An argument exists, in England and France, as well as globally, about where
photography as a medium actually started. A sign in Chalon Sur Saone,
France, on a statue of Nicephore Niepce, a collaborator with Louis Jacque
Mande Dagurre, proclaims Niepce as the inventor of photography. His image,
View from the Window at Le Gras, made in 1826, beat Daguerre's
announcement of the daguerreotype by thirteen years. William Henry Fox
Talbot's image of his latticed window in England, taken in 1835, used a
negative. In Talbot's hometown of Lacock Abbey hangs a similar sign. Talbot
invented a process in 1841 he called the calotype. In any event, the majority of
photography history books will generally cite Daguerre as the "official"
The public release of the information regarding the daguerreotype process
democratized it. Daguerre had manuals printed and the process spread more
quickly in the U.S.A.16 While some daguerreotype images were landscapes,
portraits comprised the vast percentage of images taken. The daguerreotype
was the most popular process in America in the mid nineteenth century.
The daguerreotype produced a sharp image and replaced painting of
miniatures as a way to have one's portrait done. The downside to this process
was if the subject wanted a reprint, the photographer would have to take
another picture. The calotype, using a paper negative, did allow one to make
reprints but was never used extensively in America. Though daguerreotypists
primarily worked in studios, they often took their craft on the road because
much of the population, especially Native Americans, lived in rural areas.
Making a daguerreotype was a long process, which involved many steps
from sifting fine pumice through a cloth bag to heating over an alcohol lamp
16 Robert Hirsch, Seizing the Light; A History of Photography (New York: McGraw Hill,
and a wash and dry to end the procedure. The photographer used chemicals
such as olive oil, dilute nitric acid, iodine crystals, mercury, and sodium
thiosulfate. Exposures were generally long ranging from ten to sixty seconds.
The (wet) collodion process, introduced by Frederick Scott Arthur in 1851,
eventually replaced the daguerreotype as the popular process of the day. The
success of this was due to two reasons. First, one could make a larger print for
gallery exhibition, and second, the process used a negative, which allowed the
infinite reproducibility of the image. This method of coating glass negatives
came about from the calotype. The process the photographer endured was still
extensive. Sensitized and developing chemicals were also yet required. For
photographers working in the field, this would necessitate bringing along a
tent, which needed to be somewhat light proof. The photographer needed to
expose the plate still wet and then soon develop it. The photographer washed
off the developer and, as with the daguerreotype, soaked the plate to remove
the unexposed silver. When dry, a protective varnish coated the plate.* 18 Again,
the exposure required a long shutter speed.
An offshoot of the collodion process was the ambrotype. This was a direct
positive image on glass, similar in its final look to the daguerreotype. Balsam
Michael R. Peres, ed. Focal Encyclopedia of Photography 4th ed. (New York: Focal Press,
18 Ibid., 61.
and another glass plate covered the first, and both were placed together in a
frame. The photographer had to underexpose the image. This meant a shorter
exposure time, which found no argument from the sitter. ^
Smaller than the ambrotype, less fragile, and more collectable was the
carte de visite also introduced in 1851. This photographic visiting card was
one possible product of the wet collodion negative. The print size from the
negative was 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches, which the photographer mounted on a 4 x
3 visiting card. It was popular during this period to collect images of
celebrities such as Abraham Lincoln.* 20 In addition to the picture, the
photographer could add text, giving rise to interpretation of the subject as
well as accuracy of the information.
Sometimes more popular than the carte de visite but made using a similar
process was the slightly larger cabinet card, introduced in the 1860s. The
image size here was 4 by 5 1/2 inches, mounted on a card 4 1/4 by 6 1/2
inches. The larger size provided increased detail and was considered more
visually pleasing than the smaller carte. The print revealed more of the
subject's character. Images could be placed in a room for more public viewing.
More fascinating than all of the above as it simulated a three-dimensional
effect was the stereograph. The stereograph used two images taken from
20 Ibid., 50.
slightly different positions to represent the division between viewers' eyes.
When viewed through a stereoscope, the images appeared overlaid. While this
concept actually started using two separate daguerreotypes, the more popular
version came about from a collodion era camera using two lenses. In addition
to the stereograph, a process could use glass to make a stereo transparency.
Some stereoscopes could hold multiple images.21
Sometimes referred to as "nineteenth century television," stereographs
provided entertainment and educational diversion for viewers at that time.
Tourists might purchase "album views" which were carte de visite sized
images printed from one of the stereograph's negatives. One could place these
unmounted halves in travel albums. The carte de visite and the stereograph
were economical enough to allow the average person to become a
photographic collector.22 The popularity of the carte de visite, stereograph,
and cabinet photograph lasted until the end of the nineteenth century. 23
Making a negative by coating a glass plate to sensitize it deterred many
from becoming photographers. It was hard in a studio, but especially hard in
the field. By the 1880s, a new era in photography was taking place with the
advent of the dry plate process. The photographer did not need a tent to coat
21 Ibid., 116.
22 Peter E Palmquist, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West a Biographical Dictionary,
1840-1865, (Stanford, California: Stanford UP, 2000), 52-54.
23 Ibid., 59.
glass plates in the field. He or she could coat the plates in advance or even
purchase ready-made plates.* 24
Making the process even easier, the Eastman Dry Plate Company launched
the Kodak camera in 1888. This relatively small (6-1/2" by 3-1/4" by 3-3/4")
camera came preloaded with sufficient film for 100 images. When the
photographer had taken all exposures, he or she would send the camera back
to Eastman. There the film was processed, prints made, and new film inserted
for another 100 images. The price for the camera was $25.25
Given the intricacy of the initial photo technology, especially with the long
exposure times, one might wonder regarding the subject's motivation for
having their portrait taken. The process of making a portrait was slow due to
the poor light gathering ability of the lenses and insensitivity of the film. In
contrast, painters, such as Catlin, would traditionally do a rough drawing in
the field and then go back to a studio to do the actual painting. Indoor
photography studios usually utilized northern skylights. While being told to
"look natural," the subjects usually had to place their head against a heavy
thick cast iron headrest and focus their eyes on some object (although they
could blink as often as they needed). This more often than not produced a
forced expression and in some cases resulted in a traumatic experience.
24 Ibid., 71.
25 Ibid., 89.
The First Photographs
The first photographs of Native American
subjects were influenced by a high desire on the
part of the subjects to be photographed. Some
scholars of photography cite the 1845 calotypes
of the Reverend Peter Jones as the first
(surviving at least) images of a Native American.
Jones's father was a Welsh surveyor and his
mother was Ojibway. Jones, also known as
Kahkewaquonaby, or Sacred Feathers, posed
for David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson,
who were both Scottish photographers. While
Jones was on a lecture tour in Great Britain,
Hill and Adamson invited him to pose. They
took eight images. Five had Jones in European
dress with an Indian sash and three depicted
him in a deerskin coat with a feathered
Figure III Hill & Adamson.
"Peter Jones, the Ojibwa
Minister, in Scotland." 1845. J.
Paul Getty Museum
Figure IV Hill & Adamson.
"Ojibwa Missionary Peter
Jones In Scotland." 1845.
Encyclopedia of North
American Indians By
Frederick E. Hoxie, page 306
headdress.26 In viewing the images, one can see how the photographer or
subject staged the pose.
Why did Jones wear two different outfits? Barthes has a possible
explanation when he cites four opposing and interrelated forces going on in
portrait photography. Two relating to the subject are who the individual
thinks he is and whom he wants others to think he is. Barthes himself, when
aware of the camera's presence, would generally pose, aware that the camera
would degrade or create his body.2? The anguish in Barthes was between
actually posing to reflect to the viewer his awareness of the image, yet also not
posing (looking natural) in order to express his individuality. The instant the
photographer took the picture, the subject became the object, and the subject
experienced a "micro version of death" as the subject became the spectator.
Interestingly, Barthes commented on his mother who, in his words, "lent"
herself to the photograph, overcoming the ordeal of being photographed by
sitting in front of the lens "with discretion," without appearing theatrical or
sulky, seeing instead a civic value in the photograph.28
26 Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend: Photography and the American West, 210.
27 Barthes, Camera Lucida, 13.
28 Ibid., 67.
If we include Native Americans
from all fifty United States, the
claim of first surviving picture
would go to a Hawaiian chief named
Timoteo Ha'alilio. In Paris, on May
30,1843, Ha'alilio visited a
daguerreotype studio to have his
portrait taken while he was on a trip
to convince international powers of
the need for the Hawaii's
independence. The shot was to
commemorate his journey, much as
paintings had done before 1843. The image showed Ha'alilio well dressed in a
tailored suit with his arm resting on a book on a tabled Barthes also
identified how a photograph might signify by what it denotes (shows) and by
what it connotes (suggests).3 The books are included in Ha'alilio's
daguerreotype to connote his learning and intellect.
A few weeks after the French daguerreotypist captured Ha'alilio's image, a
reporter in the United States noted that portrait painter John Mix Stanley and 2
Figure V. Unknown. "Timoteo Ha'alilio."
1843 Hawaii State Archives
29 Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend: Photography and the American West, 208.
3 Roland Barthes. "Rhetoric of the Image." 1964, in Image-Music-Text, ed. Roland Barthes
(New York: Hill and Wang, 1971). 32-51
associate Caleb Sumner Dickerson were using their daguerreotype camera.
This was during a Cherokee gathering at Tahlequah (in what is now
Oklahoma), convened by John Ross. The purpose of the gathering was to
promote alliances between tribes. Lewis Ross, John's brother, invited Stanley
and Dickerson, who were at the meeting to paint a flag for the tribes at
Tahlequah, to his home, at the conclusion of the council meeting, to take
pictures of his family. Unfortunately, no one knows where these images are
One more situation where a Native American requested his portrait
involved Sauk and Fox Chief Keokuk. In 1847, while traveling from Kansas to
St. Louis to conduct tribal business, Keokuk stopped at a studio with other
members of his tribe to have a portrait taken by daguerreotypist Thomas
Easterly. The image with Keokuk includes his cane, bear claw necklace, and
peace medal. Keokuk, or the photographer, put some thought into what he
wore. These objects appear to be something of personal pride.32 3
31 Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend: Photography and the American West, 210.
32 Ibid., 212.
Keokuk looks directly at the
viewer, engaging him or her with
his stern gaze. A soft studio
sidelight provides shape to the
subject's face. His hand holds the
cane firmly. The image is fitting of a
The photographers of each of
these images, while in general
having commercial motivations,
used the images in a variety of
interpretations from an art gallery,
in the case of Easterly, to a
traveling show in the case of Hill.
We do not know the specific motivation of the subjects for having their picture
taken. It is possible there would be some political or religious use of the
images in the case of Haalilio or Jones. Ross and Keokuk did want some sort
of personal memento. What is important here is, contrary to what the
prevailing attitudes in the mid nineteenth century regarding the lack of
willingness of Native Americans regarding having their picture taken, we have
collaboration between subject and photographer. As pointed out by Sontag,
photographs owe their existence to "a loose co-operation (quasi-magical,
Figure VI. Thomas Easterly. "Keokuk or the
Watchful Fox." 1847. Missouri History Museum
Photographs and Prints Collection
quasi-accidental) between photographer and subject mediated by an even
simpler and more automated machine. "33 The initial motivation lay more with
the subject than with the photographer. The viewer also ended up as the
subject, the subjects family, or someone the subject hoped they could
influence. This would give the impression the subject did understand what the
resulting photo product was and how they could use the product for his or her
Susan Sontag, in On Photography, tells us that photographs are pieces of
reality that one can own.34 Could the subject's motivation be to possess
oneself to share with the viewer to whom they give the print? Another
possibility could be the subject has realized his or her own mortality in the
area of change and has accepted that change in the desire for a more updated
image. We may never know the complete motivation for those initial Native
American subjects in having their picture taken but given what we do know,
they were agreeable. 33 34
33 Susan Sontag, On Photography. (New York, NY: Picador, 2001.) 53.
34 Ibid., 4.
images of Native
1853 were of
photographs of a Cheyenne village at the Big Timbers area of the Arkansas
River where the Cheyenne camped during winter. The area was about thirty-
five miles from Bents Fort in what is now Colorado. Carvalho, a painter
turned daguerreotypist, saw the daguerreotype stealing customers from
portrait painters. Carvalho learned the process and started working at one of
Jeremiah Guerney's galleries in Baltimore, Maryland, one of several galleries
in a chain.35 Due to his work in the galleries, people recognized Carvalhos
Figure VII. Solomon Carvalho. "Cheyenne Indian Village, Big
Timber." 1853. Library of Congress Daguerreotype Collection
35 Terry Wm. Mangan, Colorado on Glass. (Denver, CO: Sundance Limited, 1975) 1.
John Charles Fremont, who had already made four expeditions with survey
crews across the United States, decided his fifth expedition should have a
photographer along. Fremont contacted Carvalho and both went to New York
where Fremont asked Carvalho to accompany his group. Upon accepting,
Carvalho gathered daguerreotype supplies in New York and headed to meet
the group in St. Louis, Missouri. Another photographer in the group, Mr.
Bomar used a process involving a negative. For whatever reason, Carvalho
objected to this method and proposed to Fremont a contest between the two
photographers. Fremont accepted the proposal. Fortunately for Carvalho, and
probably best for the journey, Bomar was not completely familiar with the
new photographic process and shared that his negative must remain in water
overnight prior to viewing. Carvalho produced a print in a half hour. This
discouraged Fremont from taking Bomar along and Carvalho became the only
As the Fremont group came upon the large Cheyenne village in search of
five stolen horses, Carvalho decided he wanted to photograph the tribe. At
first, the Cheyennes were reluctant so he photographed their lodges and
tepees. The image of the camp is the only one known to have survived from
the expedition. In his book, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far
West, Carvalho shared that the Cheyennes eventually allowed him to 3
36 Ibid., 2.
photograph the people. He finally took pictures of the daughter of the Great
Chief. She attired herself in her most costly robes, ornamented with elk teeth,
beads, and colored porcupine quills expressly to have her picture taken. I
made a beautiful picture of her. 37
How Native Americans perceived the camera depended largely on their
prior experiences with Anglo Americans. Some, such as the Mandans, died
from smallpox or cholera after visits by Anglo Americans, leading to incorrect
associations of death with photography. They rebuffed photographers on
future visits. However, the belief that Native Americans thought the camera
would steal their souls used more myth than fact and became a cultural
stereotype. This purported fear of photographic technology was one
ingredient that fueled the Anglo Americans' perception of the Native
Americans inability to adapt due to primitivism. Carvalho noted the
Cheyennes "wanted me to live with them, and I believe if I had remained, they
would have worshipped me as possessing most extraordinary powers of
necromancy," especially after he demonstrated the use of matches and the
alcohol burner he used to heat the mercury for his daguerreotypes.38 Each
Native American tribe had different perceptions of photography, but they
based little on myth. Northwestern Native Americans equated the print as 3
37 ibid., 4.
38 S.N. Carvalho, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West With Col. Fremont's
Last Expedition (New York, Derby & Jackson, 1857), 68.
some version of a paper face or mask. The Paiutes in Utah gave John K.
Hillers the name "Myself in the Water," likening his images to reflections in
still water. The most popular name used was certainly "Shadow Catcher." The
Lakotas first used the name of Icastinyanka Cikala Hanzi or "Little Shadow
Catcher," for photographer David F. Barry, but one traditionally thinks of
Edward S. Curtis regarding the use of this, due to a variation of the term used
While some photographers photographed Native Americans for portraits,
others wanted to make an inventory. (The approach was from a more
objective standpoint than a romantic one.) This method seemed to be akin to
that of an anthropologist or ethnographer. The photographer felt compelled to
find some hidden reality and it became his or her quest to reveal it. Every
object seen had some use. Sontag notes that Nadar, a French photographer of
celebrities, even used aerial photography for warA The purpose of this was to
show photography's multiple use as an art as well as its ability to document.
Sontag makes an extremely interesting point that may reveal one great
interest of Anglo American photographers in Native American portraits.
Photography is an acquisition in several forms. In its simplest form we have
in a photograph surrogate possession of a cherished person or thing, a
possession, which gives, photographs some of the character of unique
objects. Through photographs, we also have a consumer's relation to events,
both to the events, which are part of our experience, and to those, which are 39
39 Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend, 222.
4 Sontag, On Photography, 176.
not a distinction between types of experience that such habit-forming
consumerism blurs. A third form of acquisition is that, through image-
duplicating machines, we can acquire something as information (rather
The art photographers, in the period examined, were drawing on the
romanticism of literature of the time and the artistic desire to depict the
beautiful. Some photographers' motives, or what role they played, whether as
an artist, ethnographer, scientist, or commercial photographer, evolved over
time. Their experience in the field many times was a catalyst for some change.
A photographer could take the approach of self-expression or of conveying the
truth. Sometimes the motivation could be both. The truth may well have been
what the artist saw rather than what was truly there.
Few, if any, photographers came to Colorado to stay between Carvalho's
visit in 1853 and the start of the gold rush in 1858. At the same time, the
popularity of the daguerreotype began to wane. Even in its heyday, the
daguerreotype was more suited toward private use. The late 1850s saw the
development of the wet plate process and by 1859, paper prints became the
norm. As one could make many prints with the wet plate, and because the
motivation of photographers was commercial use, the "business" of
photographing Native Americans started to grow.
Unfortunately, some subjects lost control over what stories the pictures
would tell. An example of this was the daguerreotype of Keokuk. One new
process was to make copy negatives from the older daguerreotype, allowing
copies and the publishing of daguerreotypes. After Keokuks death, a copy
negative was made of his daguerreotype portrait and the resulting image
placed in a government catalogue, which described him as a "magnificent
savage." The 1877 catalogue said that although "bold, enterprising, and
impulsive," he was also "politic" and showed shrewd qualities that helped him
become a successful leader of his people.-*2
Viewers believed in photographs. As photographs were not readily
reproducible in newspapers and magazines until the 1880s, publishers would
use a lithograph or engraving to replicate photographs such as the
daguerreotype. The perception of viewers of paintings was that they were
subjective. Viewers of the mid 19th century were anxious to purchase a print
that would come with the seal of authenticity, "from a daguerreotype." This
stamp would provide the aura of truth for the viewer, which was so different
from any possible embellishment that might be included in a painting or
especially in journalism. In addition to truthful documentation, photography
at this time also provided the ability to invoke memories. 4
42 Sandweiss, ed. Print the Legend, 217.
CHAPTER III NATIONAL AND COLORADO PHOTOGRAPHERS
The photography of Native Americans from 1850 until the 1870s appears to
be mostly record keeping, for example, studio portraits to commemorate
events, or ethnographic, to document different tribes and cultures. The
photographers were predominantly male. To a much lesser degree, artistic
allegorical images appeared, drawing on the principles of painting. The
negatives were sharp, coming from the collodion process. The style was
narrative, which meant attempting to tell a story in several images as with
stereographs. Whoever was selling the images could reproduce them relatively
inexpensively. Many times the images contained text. The images with text
fulfilled a public's desire for stories coming from images rich in symbolism
and narrative detail. The viewers' prior information came from text and
The added text, based on the perception of the ethnographic
photographers, tended to skew how the viewer interpreted the Native
Americans and many times did more harm than good. A viewer could perceive
the image in a detrimental way, such as viewing the subject as defeated or
savage, depending on their perception and the expression of the subject as 43
43 Martha Sandweiss, ed. Photography in 19th Century America (New York: Harry N.
Abrams, Inc, 1991), 99.
well as what the props were. Furthermore, the photographer's images tended
to project that the photographer interpreted there was no hope for the future
in the metaphors and symbolism used.
The public of the mid nineteenth century desired images that were strange
to them or of people and places that they could not access themselves. Also at
this time, both the railroad and the United States government had survey
groups scouring the west for a railroad route through the country. The first
groups had either no photographers or employed painters using photography,
such as John Mix Stanley, to document what the survey groups found.
Photographers eventually replaced the painters. These photographers would
photograph Native Americans, also assuming the dying race theory. Stanley
himself, admitted in an advertisement for his gallery that the Native
Americans were "a fast expiring race."44 Some photographers, such as
Washington Peale, argued for photography of Native Americans over
painting, because of its speed and because it could preserve not only the chiefs
of the tribes but all members.45 The sad part of this expiring race philosophy
in photographs was it noted who the Native American would become rather
than who they were. 44 45
44 Brian W. Dipple. "Photographic Allegories and Indian Destiny." (Montana: The Magazine
of Western History Fall 1992) 42.
45 Ibid., 43.
Chapter III includes national photographers, as their images would start
the desire for specific approaches. This then influenced what the public
demanded, driving what images Colorado photographers chose to shoot. I
have chronologically interspersed the national photographers with the
Colorado photographers as styles changed.
Photography in the 1850s was in a phase where photographers were not
sure what it could do but did much experimentation in trying to find out. It
took six years after Carvalho's visit in 1853 for photography to come back to
Colorado. Prior to this, California, with gold discovered there in 1848, was the
place to be. The Great Plains, which would eventually include Colorado, was
an impediment and as a result, about half of the influx of people into
California traveled there by means of the sea.
The Colorado gold rush provided the impetus for many to come not to seek
gold but to seek the money of those who were looking for gold. Subjects were
willing to spend money to have their portrait taken to send back to relatives
left behind. The photographers were emigrants (prior possibly to being
immigrants) or wanderers just like the others coming to Colorado and needed
to adapt to adversities. Sources of supplies were, at best, unreliable, which
meant these photographers needed to be able to improvise, fix, and
sometimes invent what they needed.
If the size of the town the photographer worked in was small, making a
living required having a second job or putting their work as photographers on
the road. Their subject matter usually consisted of several styles such as
portrait and landscape photography. Other subject matter might include real
estate or even livestock. Making house calls to photograph the dead or dying
could be a possibility. Small town photographers might include taking
pictures of Native Americans if the opportunity arose. Traveling
photographers could access several small towns in an area living in anything
from hotel rooms to tents to sharing a stable. The traveling photographers
would shoot either portraiture or views of rarely seen areas for what we now
consider stock photography.46 In contrast, photographers in larger cities,
where Native Americans would come to them, might have a gallery with a
While a small amount of fine art photography did exist, the motivation of
the photographers in Colorado was primarily commercial. Galleries ran the
gamut from an extravagant building to a tent. There was a risk in money as
well as health, especially in the case of those working with daguerreotypes.
The knowledge of the photographers could run from extremely competent to
those only looking to make quick money. 46
46 Palmquist, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West a Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865,
When establishing themselves in a new town, photographers might visit
the local newspaper and post an advertisement. If the photographer also
brought samples of their work to present to the editor, the newspaper might
also publish a plug known as an "editorial puff," which traditionally would
contain praise for the newcomer's work.47 The Rocky Mountain Herald
provided a "puff' for a Miss Mickel in June of i860 saying, "We have
examined some of her pictures and pronounce them good."48 Some
photographers took a simpler route by using only word-of-mouth or sidewalk
Our first Colorado photographer was Rufus E. Cable. Cable, originally a
photographer from Kansas City, came to Colorado not for photography
initially but in search of gold. In a January 1859 letter to his brother, he
Yesterday I went to Auraria, to witness a feast given by the whites to the
Arapahoe Indians. There were assembled some 500 warriors, and 300 or
400 women and children. Two oxen were roasted, and piles of dried apples
heaped up on blankets, coffee, bread, etc. I have never seen men eat till now.
I have heard that one man could eat an antelope at one meal, and I verily
believe one Indian, called "Heap of Whips," could eat a whole ox. It is worth
one year's travel to witness such a scene.47 49
47 ibid., 38.
48 Rocky Mountain Herald [Denver] June 23, i860, 4.
49 L.R. Hafen. "The Colorado Gold Rush," 219-220, reprinted from the Kansas City Journal
of Commerce, April 6,1859.
We are unaware if Cable took any images of Native Americans but it would
appear, based on his letter, that there was integration between Native
Americans and Anglos.
An early Colorado photographer we do know who used Native Americans
as subjects was George Wakely. In 1859, Wakely opened up the first gallery in
Denver. Wakely started out doing ambrotypes and pictures on leather for
miners. His initial claim to fame was the only surviving ambrotype of the
Amazing M'lle Carolista doing her tightrope walk across Larimer Street. The
newspaper made mention of
Wakely taking pictures of the
event, which gave Wakely some
free publicity. He was also one
for forward thinking, noting the
increasing fashion of the carte
de visite in the East; eventually
he brought the new process to
Denver. In preparation for the
carte's arrival, the newspaper
wrote about its forthcoming. ^ j,^ ^/L,
I . d-iCru/msUt., cite*.,
Also ot note was a newspaper c ^
account Referring to his eallerv Figure VIII. George Wakely. "Black Kettle and
account. Keterrmg to ms gallery, Chiefs at Denver." i860. Denver Public Library
the newspaper, at the end of the article, wrote "On the walls around are to be
seen the faces of
most of our
aboriginal. Go and
Only two images
Americans Figure IX. George Wakely. "Camp Weld Council, Denver." 1864.
Denver Public Library
attributed to Wakely were available. One image shows Black Kettle and
Chiefs, the other is a group portrait with both white and Native American
men, including Wakely's step son-in-law, Major Edward W. Wynkoop. Wakely
was popular more for his photos of "views," which included pictures of local
area streets, and portraits taken in his gallery for carte de visites.
Both Native American images shown here have the groups arranged in a
fashion that does not deviate from any other general group poses of the time.
In fact, "Camp Weld Council" appears similar to a family group shot taken at a
wedding or family reunion. This shot was to commemorate the council.
Wakely chose to intersperse two Native Americans in the back row, which
suggests the resulting peace agreement.
5 Daily Colorado Republican and Rocky Mountain Herald, June 26,1862.
In 1839, the year Daguerre released information regarding his process,
William Gunnison Chamberlain was in Lima, Peru entering into the silk trade.
Doing well in that business, he took up daguerreotyping as a hobby in 1847
and afterward came home to the United States. The chemicals from the
daguerreotype process made him ill and he temporarily gave up photography.
Chamberlain had decided to move his family from the east to California in
i860. Upon reaching Colorado, his wife became too ill for the journey and
they decided to winter in Colorado until she got better and they could
continue the journey. His wife's health got so much better in Denver they
decided to remain permanently and Chamberlain renewed his photography,
taking ambrotypes and tintypes. He took picture-taking trips to the
mountains in the summer using collodion negatives, leaving his wife to
manage the portraiture business.
One summer excursion Chamberlain embarked on in 1871 with his son
Walter, and George Kirkland, found the photographers bumping into a group
of Utes. The Utes requested fishhooks, with which Walter complied. Hoping
this generosity might give them an edge, the photographers went into the
camp eager to photograph the tribe. Unfortunately, the Utes denied their
request to take their picture stating it always made them sick. When the
photographers persisted and tried to persuade the Utes, the Utes continued to
say no. When the elder Chamberlain aimed his camera without permission in
paparazzi style, the Utes retreated to their tents except for a few who became
angry. In order to leave unscathed, William promised the heads of the tribe
that George Kirkland would fix them a free lunch.51
The stereograph "Native American Man," attributed to Chamberlain but
actually taken by Kirkland, was a studio portrait placing the subject in an
anthropological pose. The subject wore a mix of Anglo and Native American
clothing in the form of the beads and vest. The subject's name was in fact Nic-
a-a-gat Achgat. More than likely, the photo was taken to sell to someone other
than the subject. Interestingly, Kirkland vehemently hated and despised
Native Americans were generally depicted as "the other," exotic, and relics
of the past. Images tended to be honorific but at the same time repressive. The
photographers chose to represent their subjects in stereotypical ways, based
on what they felt
they should look
like or what they
felt the public was
willing to buy. This
them in their own
Figure X. W. G. Chamberlain. "Native American Man."
1871. Denver Public Library
s' Terry Wm. Mangan, Colorado on Glass, 50.
s2 Ibid., 46.
traditional dress as well as costumes provided by the photographers. While
some Native Americans held peace pipes or wore Presidential medals, most
photographers added weapons, especially, tomahawks. The tomahawk served
to verify the "savage" in noble savage, establish the Native Americans warlike
qualities, and justified fear.53
Chamberlain's "Johnson, Ute Medicine Man," represents this concept. The
medicine man not only holds two scalps
but a revolver as well. However, it is
possible the medicine man wanted these
items included in his portrait. Either way,
given this and his encounters in the field, it
would appear Chamberlain's motivation
came mainly from a commercial
One exception to depicting a Native
American as exotic appears to be this image
of Chief Ouray. Chamberlain must have had
high regard for Ouray. In this studio portrait, we see Ouray in a much
different pose than others Chamberlain took. Ouray sat back in the chair and 53
Figure XI. W. G. Chamberlain,
"Johnson, Ute Medicine Man." c
1870, Denver Public Library
53 Bobbi Rahder. "Gendered Stylistic Differences Between Photographers of Native Americans
at the Turn of the Century." (Journal of the West Jan. 1996) 89.
held his blanket. As in other
Chamberlain images, the subject wore a
mix of Anglo and Native clothing with a
bead choker and vest complete with
Chamberlain later worked for
William Henry Jackson from 1887 to
1890. Jackson passed Chamberlain's
"Ouray, Head Chief of Southern Utes,"
as one of his own for several years after
Ouray's death. Some of Chamberlain's
negative collection had come into the hands of one Denver photographer
named Charles Weitfle. Unfortunately, a fire on October 31,1883 destroyed
Chamberlain's aquired collection in addition to two other area
In the 1870s two national photographers of note, Jackson, and John K.
Hillers, were doing survey photography, including taking photos of Native
Americans. Hillers was the photographer for Major John Wesley Powell's
survey team. Hillers shot in a narrative style using pictorial techniques. This
style involved shooting several images in an attempt to tell a story. Hillers 54
54 Peter E. Palmquist, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West, a Biographical Dictionary,
Figure XII. William G. Chamberlain
"Ouray, Head Chief of Southern
Utes." 1877. Denver Public Library
employed a stereograph camera as its physical size was smaller and the
format was in demand.
For Hillers, the motivation was money, with little care for his subjects. This
is evident in one of his letters to Major Powell.
"Here I found six Cheyennes who had just left the war path, all strappen
[sic] big fellows. I took them among the rocks and set them up as food for
my camera. I stripped them to the buff, not a stitch on them except a breach
clout and succeeded in making pictures of them all."55
Hillers was an ethnological photographer when he wrote this. It would seem
logical that the marketplace drove other photographers as well. The style or
type of photography that was selling dictated what motivated these
photographers. This led to wanting to photograph subjects in situations even
more exotic than before. Sacred dances and rituals that no one else had seen
were subject matter for many photographers, especially as additional types of
cameras entered the market and were accessible to greater numbers of
Of all the western photographers, including such names as Eadward
Muybridge and Timothy O'Sullivan, William Henry Jackson stands above all
the rest, as he was certainly the most prolific and profitable of all. Jackson's
actual residency in Colorado encompassed two decades, from 1879 until
moving to Detroit in 1898 to become part of the Detroit Photographic
55 Karen Current. Photography and the Old West. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1978)
Company. However, Jackson as a photographer of Native Americans in
Colorado started several years prior to that and his photography of Native
Americans on site and in his Omaha studio started over a decade earlier.
Much of the information one reads regarding Jackson comes in the form of
his own words. He wrote two autobiographies; one he completed in 1926 and
another he completed in 1940. Both used his personal journals.
After serving in the Civil War and traveling as a bullwhacker, Jackson
eventually settled down in Omaha in 1867, opening a business with his
brother, called Jackson Brothers, Photographers. His "shingle" included a
painting by F. O. C. Darley titled "When Pawnee Meets Sioux." The majority
of his work there was portraiture, which he found boring but profitable. The
area contained the tribes of the Osages, Otoes, Pawnees, Winnebagoes, and
Many friendly Indians of these tribes I had met in the city. I had even prevailed
upon some of them to come to into the gallery and pose for their pictures. It was no
unusual sight to have the reception room filled with groups of blanketed squaws,
papooses, and bucks, willing for a small recompense to brave the "bad medicine" of
the camera. The result was many interesting portraits of the red men; but I was
anxious to photograph them in their native settings.^6
For excitement, he would travel to be, as he called it, "missionary to the
Indians." Jackson's motivation to take the images was the same as his
subjects, money. The Native Americans would pose for Jackson and he would 56
56 William Henry Jackson, William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer Photographer," (Santa Fe:
Museum of New Mexico, 2005), 98.
pay them in cash, gifts, or tobacco. Jackson would sell the images to local
venues who would then sell them to merchants in the east. 57
Jackson turned his attention away from Native American photography for
a period, more interested in the railroad. Needing a photographer for his
survey group for the United States Geological Survey, Ferdinand Vandiveer
Hayden approached Jackson to be a photographer on his next trip to explore
unmapped regions of the west. Jackson readily agreed, leaving his wife in
charge of the studio. Jackson photographed both Native Americans and
scenery while out with Hayden. The association with Hayden proved to be
successful and in 1871, Jackson sold his business, retaining his Native
American and survey negatives. 58
Jackson concentrated on scenic pictures the next few years, especially in
the northern portion of Colorado in 1873 but in the summer of 1874, he felt
compelled to make "Indian" pictures, as he called it. His encounter with the
Uncompagre and Tabequache Utes at the Los Pinos Indian Agency appears to
start out agreeably but ends up lacking greatly in sensitivity. His initial
meeting with Chief Ouray seemed to go in a good way. Chief Ouray always
comes forth as one who enjoys having his picture taken, readily choosing his 57 *
57 William Henry Jackson, Time Exposure the Autobiography of William Henry Jackson;
with an introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,
s8 Ibid., 187.
own attire.59 As well, Chief Ouray offered to persuade others to have their
photographs taken. Using Jackson's own words seems the best to illustrate
It was arranged that we were to photograph the Indians in their camp
next day. Noontime came before I got down there prepared for work. The
agent and his family had preceded us in their carriage. Soon after we arrived
Ingersoll and I had a preliminary pow-wow, in one of the teepees, with a
group of the head chiefs. The pipe was passed and matters were discussed at
some length. It soon developed that some of the medicine men probably
prejudiced the others against being photographed. The chiefs united in
declaring it was "no bueno."
Shavano, [Ourays second in
command] Guerro [a sub-chief],
and some others said they would
have nothing to do with it.
Despite their objections,
however, we unpacked our outfit in
front of Peah's teepee. This chief
had been very friendly towards us,
and we now counted upon his
influence to see us through, having
further enlisted his support by the
purchase of two of his best
blankets. Getting to work in
earnest, after these delays, we
succeeded in rounding up several
groups in front of their teepees, the
men donning their big feather war
bonnets and beaded buckskin dress
for the occasion. Just as everything
was going along all right, the
inevitable afternoon storm stopped
further operations. By the time the
rain stopped, it became too dark.59 60
Figure XIII. William Henry Jackson.
"Chief Peah and family on Southern Ute
Reservation." 1874 Smithsonian
Institution National Anthropological
Jackson's reason for going to the agency at this time was a periodic
distribution of annuity goods, which brought together many of the Utes in one
59 ibid., 226.
60 Jackson, William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer Photographer," 121.
spot.61 The next day the encounter started out somewhat sneaky and
eventually took a turn for the worse.
By some conniving, in which we were aided by the agent's wife, we got a
capital negative of Peah's papoose. I tried to get his squaw, but when the
chief observed what we were doing, he ordered her away most peremptorily.
Peah appeared to have suddenly changed his attitude towards us and now
seemed intent on obstructing our work as much as possible.
Defeated in this quarter, for they were persistent and apparently had
appointed a guard to follow and watch me closely, we went over to the
cookhouse with our camera, intending to get a general view from the
doorway. Just as I was about to expose a plate, an Indian rode up and tried
to spur his horse through the doorway. Failing in that, he wheeled the
animal across the entrance and, throwing his blanket over his arm,
completely blocked the view. It was no use arguing with him, for he was
determined and was backed up by others, mounted like himself, who waited
upon his orders. As so much antagonism was shown, and no assistance
came from either the agent or Ouray, we gave up further attempts.62 *
William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer Photographer" has a brief
conclusion to the whole event telling that Peah demanded the plates already
made and attempted to take the plate box from Jackson. Jackson states he
simply made Peah understand this was going a bit too far. This ended the
photography for the day. However, in Time Exposure, published later, he
elaborated that prior to attempting to take pictures at the cookhouse, he
attempted to take a panoramic shot of the whole villagers
61 Jackson, Time Exposure the Autobiography of William Henry Jackson; with an
introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz, 224.
62 Jackson, William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer Photographer," 122.
63 Ibid., 122.
...three or four Indians were detailed to get in my way. As I attempted to
focus, one of them would snatch the cloth from my head; or toss a blanket
over the camera; or kick out one of the supporting legs.64
One last encounter, before Jackson left, came from a Chief named Billy.
The earlier text advised how Billy attempted to see how many are in the party,
antagonizing the Jackson camp, and how he did not approve of the white
man's encroachment from miners and hunters. In addition, Billy advised the
party the Native Americans did not recognize boundaries and claimed all the
western slope of Colorado.65 Again, Jackson left out detail he later included.
Billy advised the party it might be dangerous to proceed farther with his plates
and that some hunters and miners had died.
I decided it might be well to answer Chief Billy in the way he could best
understand. Motioning to Bob and Steve, who were crack shots with both
rifle and revolver, I got them to put on a little exhibition of target shooting,
in which I also joined. After a dozen rounds, Billy departed. Neither he nor
Peah, who had been audacious enough to demand my exposed plates, tried
any further interference with us.66
One could refer to Jackson as a paparazzo given his dogged pursuit. He
continued his photography for the Hayden survey team in and out of
Colorado. The public's interest in the west at this time was high. Hayden had
given Jackson all rights to the negatives for his own use. The public would
readily purchase his printed images for their walls as well as his stereographs.
The government was willing to spend the money on these expeditions that
64 Jackson, Time Exposure the Autobiography of William Henry Jackson; with an
introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz, 227.
6s Jackson, William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer Photographer," 123.
66 Jackson, Time Exposure the Autobiography of William Henry Jackson; with an
introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz, 228.
included a photographer. According to Jackson, the survey group needed
something to justify the money spent to Congress. This resulted in reports
where Jackson would classify and catalogue his images and findings. Jackson
was unaware whether these reports, prepared for publication, ever had any
public demand. He did know the reports kept the representatives of the
people approving the money needed to finance the surveys.6? One report that
Jackson wrote in 1877 that is of interest to this thesis is his Descriptive
Catalogue Of Photographs Of North American Indians.
Descriptive Catalogue provided individual and collective interpretations to
Jackson's images of Native Americans over the course of the survey.
Ironically, the book itself is void of any images. This may be due to the
inability to reproduce such a large volume of images via drawing which was
common at this time. The report encompasses twenty-five tribes and
references over one thousand images. Similar to what Catlin did in his Indian
Galleries, Jackson tells the viewer whether the subject was crafty, brave,
lacked in character, or was in advance of others in knowledge. Jackson even
referenced Catlin and Catlin's assessment of the Comanches. In addition,
when allowed, some accounts provided the subject's measurements of height,
chest, and head. Of course, this ethnographic and opinionated information
biased the viewer for upon seeing the image, one tends to confirm Jackson's
67 Jackson, Time Exposure the Autobiography of William Henry Jackson; with an
introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz, 222-223.
account in the book, leaving little room for any self-determining elucidation.
His account of Ouray is as follows.
765-7, OURAY. Arrow. TABEGUACHE.
Ouray was born in 1834, in Taos, ET. Mex., his father being a Ute, and his
mother a Jicarilla Apache. He attended the Mexican school at Taos, under
the tuition of Jesuit priests, and acquired there a perfect knowledge of the
Spanish language... In 1856, his knowledge of the Spanish language and
superior executive ability secured him the position of Government
interpreter, which position he has held ever since, and through the same
means he has gradually risen from a simple warrior to be the principal chief
of the nation.68
Jackson has high regard for Ouray telling us of his "perfect" knowledge of
Spanish, "superior" executive ability, and that he rose from a "simple" warrior
to the principal chief of the nation.
The next is not a Colorado Native American but provides insight on the
ethnographic information Jackson would include.
161-162. NAH-AH-SA-NAH. Indian. ANADARKO.
Commonly known as Warloupe; probably a corruption of Guadeloupe. Was
born near Kacitoches about 1825. Is now chief of the Caddos, and
considered in advance of most of his people. Is doing his utmost to elevate
his tribe to the standard of the white man. Height, 5.6; chest, inspiration,
37; expiration, 34 J; circumference of head over ears, 21J ; diameter of head
from ear to ear, 14J.69
Here Jackson made assumptions on the origin of the common name. Jackson
considered Warloupe advanced because Warloupe attempted to "elevate his
68 Jackson, William H. Descriptive Catalogue Photographs of North American Indians. Rep.
no. 9. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1877, 78.
6<> Jackson, William H. Descriptive Catalogue Photographs of North American Indians, 101.
tribe to the standard of the white man," yet ultimately reduces him to a group
Jackson took pictures of Native Americans each year he was with the
Hayden survey. He chose to leave out most of the over 200 negatives he took
in the first four expeditions, other than a segregated section in the back of his
1874 catalogue of landscape images. Additional images came into Jackson's
possession from a variety of sources, including both ethnographic, in the field
images, as well as studio images. His photographs of Mesa Verde, which by
that time was void of any native people, illustrated how Native Americans
were disappearing from Colorado and beyond.
The images of the landscape contrasted his images of Native Americans.
One spoke of what was to come, the other spoke of what had been. Some of
his Native American images up to when he came to Denver in 1879 were basic
studio portraits, which eventually became part of the Hayden survey
collection of the National Anthropological Archives. Others were explanatory
ones placing the subjects in the field or in front of their tipis.?0 In an 1894
book of reproductions of scenes he had photographed, Jackson's introduction
cited, "the red man will pass into oblivion before many years have flown but
the glory of the scenes they dwelt in will never be eclipsed." ? The essence of 7
7 Jackson, William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer Photographer," 44.
71 Sandweiss ed., Print the Legend, 204.
the west had nothing to do with interactions between its diverse populations,
but only with the landscape itself.
With a few exceptions, Wakely's, Chamberlain's, and Jackson's
photographs were generally descriptive, as in a driver's license photo. They
showed only the surface characteristics of the subjects in them. In the 1880s,
a change came in the approach some photographers took toward photography
of Native Americans and the technology in use. Pictorialism was the new
fashion of the day. Pictorialism included techniques taken from painting,
especially Impressionism, as well as unsharp focus, filters, and toning. Many
photographers of the late nineteenth century were humanists dedicated to
showing the beautiful in the Native American, as well as compassion toward
his or her subjects. The attitude of Anglo Americans at this time regarding
Native Americans was even more that they were a vanishing race (having been
told that for so long), embracing the romanticism of the time. This changed
slightly in the early 1900s when photographers, such as Alfred Stieglitz and
Paul Strand, looked toward the ordinary.
As the fear of physical harm to Anglo Americans from Native Americans
lessened with the confinement of Native Americans to reservations, the Native
American became more of a symbol of the new nation. Anglo Americans of the
late nineteenth century were embarrassed by the decline in population of the
Native Americans. This embarrassment was in large part due to the fact
Native Americans had been fighting for liberty, which paralleled that of Anglo
Americans earlier during the Revolutionary War. A move toward assimilation
of Native Americans started in the United States, admitting them into homes
The style, or how the photograph was handled, in some cases, now took the
place of content. Photographers attempted to explain their subjects visually
and Native Americans became some of the best subjects to accomplish this.
Colorado photographer Laura Gilpin and Gertrude Kasebier, if we include
Kasebier's residency here in her early years, employed Pictorialism. However,
the style was prevalent on a national basis and it does deserve mention.
Edward S. Curtis is the most notable male national name who employed a
pictorialist style with Naive Americans.
Curtis photographed Native Americans to combat the stories and sketches
of savagism, to preserve the vanishing Indian by means of photographs, and
to increase their presence in sharing of those images. Curtis pursued his
pictorialist photography in a romantic way. Curtis paid his subjects and chose
their ornaments and clothing. He played with natural light and his pictorial
images were simulations of what really was. In some cases, the subject was
not even from the tribe he or she represented. Curtis manipulated the content
as he staged many of the ceremonies and dances. Curtis employed the use of
allegorical images. Vanishing Race Navaho shows the back of Native
Americans riding into the sunset. Additionally, he removed any signs of
modernism from his subjects such as suspenders, a clock, or a parasol.
Curtis was ambiguous in that, on one hand, he felt Native Americans were
going into some unknown future and, on the other hand, that assimilation
into the "superior race" would be forthcoming.?2 Curtis's images were not
readily available to the public. Rather, one could obtain them if wealthy or
through major libraries. Other ethnographic photographers, who claimed to
have a belief in the future of Native Americans, for example Roland Reed and
Joseph Dixon, used pessimistic allegorical photography, such as combining
images of a Native American facing the sunset, in their images. The Anglo
American public readily consumed this imagery.
Ethnographic photographers such as Curtis wanted to increase public
awareness of Native American cultures, via their photography. The overall
concept was to document the vanishing race, including in the images the
Native American's artistic skills and religious ceremonies. Curtis used
embellishment instead of depicting any sort of reality. Unfortunately, this
style leads to idealism rather than a rescue.?3
Another style of photography of Native Americans was to depict them as
participants in a changing civilization, not members of a vanishing race. In
contrast to Hillers, national photographer Adam Clark Vroman treated his
subjects as human beings. Many laud his images as being without the 72 *
72 Anne Maxwell, Colonial Photography & Exhibitions: Representations of the 'Native' and
the Making of European Identities. (London and New York: Leicester University Press,
commercial or romantic twists other photographers of the late nineteenth
century such as Curtis sought. His motivation was to make his images look as
genuine as he could. Sontag calls his images unexpressive, uncondescending,
The changing civilization was evident in expositions held in Europe and the
United States. The exposition's goals were, amongst other things, to show
progress in technology and culture. Initially designed as a venue to promote
local products, exhibitions grew to include boasting between European
nations regarding their imperialism. Europeans saw themselves as superior to
the natives, yet, ironically, they also saw the natives as having the capability to
become civilized, thus, placing the European in the status of hero.75 The
display of imperialism at exhibitions in Britain was more toward the practical,
whereas in France, it was on racial theories and culture. In the United States,
the importance was on how to best to civilize the natives. 74 75
74 Sontag, On Photography, 62.
75 Maxwell, Colonial Photography & Exhibitions: Representations of the 'Native' and the
Making of European Identities, 3.
celebrated as one type of
as well as a medium to
illustrate other types,
such as culture.
Exhibition managers Figure xrv. W.H. Jackson. "Ute Indians at the
Denver Expo." 1882. Denver Public Library
employed photographers to
document the happenings and anthropological displays of fairs to give
permanence to the exhibit. Additionally, as Native Americans were a part of
many exhibitions, photographers had the ease of having their ethnological
subjects come to them. Moreover, while many of the hostilities between
Native and Anglo Americans had ceased, travel to remote areas where tribes
lived was still arduous if not dangerous. Viewers were motivated by a
combination of curiosity, colonialism (AKA Manifest Destiny), and a
perception of a disparity of races.
Photographers at the exhibitions still employed a wide variety of
photographic end-results including carte de visite, daguerreotypes,
collotypes, and stereo cards.?6 Mostly the exhibition manager, rather than the
marketplace, determined what the photographer photographed. The *
?6 Maxwell, Colonial Photography & Exhibitions: Representations of the 'Native' and the
Making of European Identities, 9.
exhibitions might also include images from anthropological photographers
who strove to create what they felt was an objective record of anatomical
proportions and physical features of Native Americans.
The result of all the exhibitions was that the attendees in both Europe and
the United States felt what was being done in the United States and elsewhere
was compassionate. Tied to all of this was the fact that the ability to civilize
any native people as well as the images at the exhibitions representing the
colonized people as savage and/or primitive, reassured Europeans of their
The National Mining and Industrial Exposition was established in Denver
in 1882. The object of the exposition was to exhibit all the mineral products in
the country, especially gold and silver. Horace Tabor was President of the
Exposition board.?8 William Henry Jackson photographed some of the 34
Southern Ute delegation who had attended to perform dances and
ceremonies. The Exposition in 1883 had twenty Utes in attendance. The Utes
set up their wigwams on the Exposition grounds and were the center of
attention. ?9 77 79
77 Ibid., 7.
78 New York Times [New York] "Denver's Great Exposition," April 26,1882: 8
79 Rocky Mountain News August 11,1883
Participating in this
1883 exhibition was
Collier. Collier also
included Native Americans
as subjects. In contrast to Figure XV. Joseph Collier. "Group of Ute Indians."
1883. Denver Public Library
Jackson, Collier embraced
the humanistic view. Originally, from Scotland, Collier came to the United
States and opened a studio in Central City in 1871. In 1878, he moved to
Denver and opened a studio on Larimer Street. While in Central City, Collier
photographed scenery, but once in Denver, he began to photograph buildings
and portraits. "He also liked to photograph the Ute Indians roaming about
town and along the eastern front range into the mountains. They would stop
at a house on the outskirts asking for biscuits or bread and oftentimes
terrorized the housewife with offers to exchange a pony for one of her
Collier had the opportunity to make two photographs that commemorated
the 1883 Exposition. The first was a group shot, probably in his studio. A local
newspaper reported, "Mr. J. Coulter, a photographer from the city has been
80 Kathleen and Mary Collier, The Photography of Joseph Collier, (Pruett Pub. Co, Boulder,
CO. 1983), 4.
photographing the Utes."81 As there is no listing for a Denver photographer
named Coulter, it is very likely the report meant Joseph Collier and was a
result of a typographical error.82
The second shot was of a bride and groom. Minnie and Shavoo were
married during the Exposition.^ The Exposition organizers and the
newspapers made much of the match to generate interest in the Exposition.
Between one and two thousand people
attended the Exposition on the day
following the marriage.84 In this image, we
see a blend of old culture, in the form of
feathers and moccasins, and some
assimilation into the Anglo American world
with a top hat and musket for the man and
a floral print dress for the woman. While a
descriptive picture, it also explains the
relationship between the two subjects by
way of the title and ring on her middle finger.
The studio portrait of Native Americans
employed by Collier became a common method of photographic style around
Figure XVI. Joseph Collier.
"Ute Bride and Groom." 1873
Denver Public Library
81 Denver Republican August 23,1883, p.8 c.3
82 Robert G. Lewis, Native View Biographies, (Denver: The Denver Public Library, 2002.) no
83 Denver Republican August 18,1883, p.6 c.i
84 Tribune August 20,1883, p.8, ci
the turn of the twentieth century. Whereas anthropologists and tourists might
depict a Native American as unrefined or stereotypical, studio portraits
allowed the subjects to choose what they wore and how they looked, enabling
the viewer to perceive the subject as refined. Additionally, the clothing (as
opposed to nakedness) and lack of primitive weaponry empowered the subject
to produce a less stereotypical image. In the case of the Great Exhibitions,
Native Americans attended and would
have their studio portrait taken as their
only means of financial survival or, in the
case of Sitting Bull and Geronimo, as a
condition of their prison sentence.85 Even
though they were prisoners of war, they
had become celebrities and the Exhibitions
would appeal to the Department of War to
allow the Native Americans to attend the
The Denver studio that comes up
repeatedly when viewing elegant studio
portraits of Native Americans is Rose and Hopkins. I could find little
information about the two men with regard to why their subjects chose them
Figure XVII. Rose and Hopkins.
"Elote, Subchief of Apaches"
1900. Denver Public Library
8s Maxwell, Colonial Photography & Exhibitions: Representations of the 'Native' and the
Making of European Identities, 105.
or why they chose to photograph Native
Americans. Obituaries and advertisements
were the best information I came across.
The quality and sharpness of all their
images was exquisite. A wonderful soft
sidelight was used in the majority of
images, which helps to show the shape of
each face. Names were regularly used in
Benjamin Hopkins had little background
in photography before he started working
for John Rose in 1885. At that time, the studio name was Rose & Company.
Rose had worked for several galleries in Denver until opening his own gallery
the same year Hopkins joined.
We do not know who made the choices of attire in these studio portraits. If
the subjects made the choices, it could be to show something about them. Did
they choose native dress to indicate their customs and attire or did the
photographer prompt them because that was the perception of the
photographer regarding how he or she thought they should look? If the
subject was dressed in styles of the Anglo American, especially if only
partially, such as the top hats in the prior pictures, this could indicate a
willingness to accept that culture but on the subject's terms.
Figure XVIII. Rose and Hopkins
"Ah-Ne-Pitch, Tom-as Cita, Ma-
rez." 1899. Denver Public Library
Regardless of dress, the viewer can tell much about the subject in any
photograph. Many images of Native Americans have the subject looking not
directly into the eyes of the viewer. Rather, the pose requires the subject to
look left, right, up, down, or places them in profile. This allows the viewer to
gaze at the subject. An exception was one image of Geronimo, taken in 1904
by the Gerhard sisters, Mamie and Emma, which had Geronimo staring
directly at the viewer, which confronts and interrogates the viewer. The
thought process is a resulting shift in power between the viewer and the
subject. A viewer can also tell much about the photographer. What the
photographer chooses to leave out of a photograph can be as significant as
what they place in the photo. This tells the viewer what the photographer
thought was important.
The commercialist use of images
taken of Native Americans in Colorado
was not limited to the studio in the last
part of the nineteenth century. The
ease of the dry plate process provided
even more mobility to the
photographer. Two of the more
popular Native American
photographers in Colorado, after the
turn of the century, were Lisle Updike
Figure XIX. Lisle Updike. "Zuni
Woman preparing to Grind Commeal."
photo from Glass Plates & Wagon Ruts
and William Pennington. Based out of Durango, both men traveled the four
corners area in search of subjects. Updike and Pennington worked to gain
their subject's trust before taking any images. While their visits to the
different tribes were commercial in nature, they would attempt to compensate
their subjects with either free prints or trading tokens.
After gaining reluctant permission from the father of one Zuni boy, Updike
photographed him. Following a trip back to the studio to develop and print
their negatives, and proud of what he had
taken, Updike returned to the Zunis only
to find the one boy he photographed had
died. The Zunis were convinced Updike
killed him. While he knew he was not
responsible, this still affected him.86
In viewing some of Updike and
Pennington's images, the rapport between
photographer and different subjects is
evident, especially with the women of the
tribe. The subject's faces reflect an ease
with the photographer.
Figure XX. William Pennington.
"Navajo Mother." c.1904. Denver
86 H. Jackson Clark, Glass Plates & Wagon Ruts: Images of the Southwest by Lisle Updike
and William Pennigton. (Niwot, Co: University Press of Colorado, 1998), 83.
Both photographers had their own distinctive style. Pennington preferred
the posed photo with an emphasis on detail and a focus on the person. Updike
wanted to create photos that echoed his perception of the west. In fact, after
the two took pictures of the Navajos, all of which Updike assigned to
Pennington, Pennington billed the series as "Early Art Photography. "8? Most
of the subjects' eyes look off or downward, rather than directly into the
camera such as In the Glow of the
Campfire (fig XXI), which is different
from classic painting poses. Navajo
Mother (fig XX) also stands out as being
different. Whether the smiles on both the
mother and child are due to the
photographer or someone else present in
the studio, we do not presently know.
While Pennington and Updike traveled
by wagon, the advent of the Kodak
camera allowed Sumner Matteson to travel
by bicycle. Matteson sold bicycles as well as
Kodak cameras and supplies for the Overman Wheel Company in Denver.
When the Overman Wheel Company left Denver in 1899, Matteson embarked
Figure XXI. William Pennington. "In
the Glow of the Campfire." c.1904.
Denver Public Library
87 Ibid., 99.
on his own as a traveling correspondent.88 A local newspaper report states
that he "literally astonished the natives by leaving snakelike wheel tracks in
regions that have hitherto been inaccessible to all but pedestrians or those
who travel by burro back."* 8^ Matteson took pictures of the Utes and sold them
to such magazines as Harper's Weekly. In addition to images of the people, he
took images of their pottery.
Matteson also sold an article to Outing magazine, praising the effectiveness
of the Utes' hunting practices. His lack of fear with regard to snakes may have
given him an edge with the Hopis in photographing the snake dance. His
images again reflect a comfort between the photographer and subject.^0 One
image he took intends to show
humor with three Native
inspecting his camera on his
tripod. While the viewer may
argue whether the image does
illustrate humor, it acts to show
how the camera was now able to
Figure XXII. Sumner W. Matteson. "They gave
me the laugh and I took it snapped with a folding
pocket Kodak." 1899. Denver Public Library
88 Alfred L. Bush and Lee Clark Mitchell. The Photograph and the American Indian.
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 306.
89 The Denver Republican, "Denver Cyclist Proves the Utility of the Wheel in Sand-Swept
Deserts," December 17,1899, page 31.
9 Bush and Mitchell. The Photograph and the American Indian, 306.
As the process
became easier, the
came into the mix and
social uses of the
camera became popular.
The ease of photography
Figure XXIII. Unknown. "Ute group portrait." c.1900.
Denver Public Library
prompted tourists to set
forth with their cameras. (Note in figure XXIII, the man in the back wearing a
cowboy hat has a camera
tucked under his arm.) They
either would shoot an image
looking for "Indianness," or
shoot with sensitivity,
sometimes capturing the
aspects of reservation life
ignored by the professional.
The latter images were similar
Figure XXIV. L C McClure. "Ute Indians
amusing Colorado tourists." c.1900. Denver
y Brian W. Dippie, "Photographic Allegories and Indian Destiny." Montana: The Magazine of
Western History Fall 1992: 45.
to ones taken by tourists today, sometimes placing the tourist amongst the
Tourists abounded in the American West with the advent of the railways,
and Colorado was no exception. Railroads helped encourage tourism with
their promotions. Sontag argues that tourists feel insecure and use
photography to take possession of the space they are visiting.^2 This
alleviation of insecurity may have been one of the reasons tourists had for
photographing while visiting the West, in addition to proving they were
This predatory photography, as Sontag calls it, many times invaded the
Native Americans' life, with little regard for their privacy or culture.
a routine part of an
Indian ceremony to
benefit the tourist.
felt photographing is
a right, which allows 9
Chipeta." 1907. Denver Public library
Figure XXV. Thomas McKee. "Chief Ouray's squaw,
92 Sontag, On Photography, 9.
them to invade that
which is going on. 93
Using the term
predatory toward a
defensive and uneasy,
preferring the term
benevolent or ideal
observer and denying
any aggressive behavior. In the words of Ansel Adams, we don't take a
picture, we make it.94 In contrast to the ethnographic photographer, the
tourists images would generally include some emotion.
The last two Colorado male photographers included in this paper are
Thomas S. McKee and Horace S. Poley. Their images are similar in style.
McKee started a studio in Montrose in 1887 doing portrait and scenic
photography, as had many others before him. His main subjects include the
Utes. In looking at his images, the viewer can see a very straightforward
approach to the subjects. The composition is adequate. However, the
expressions and poses make it difficult for the viewer to interpret something 94
c.1900. Denver Public Library
43 Ibid., 11.
94 Ibid., 123.
more about the subjects than a simple
record. The subjects appear courteous
but with little expression and their
poses look stiff. McKee shared that he
felt he had a "greater knowledge of the
Ute Indians than any other man living
and his experience comes from personal
contact. "95 The information he shares
about the Utes deals more with their
customs, religion, and pottery than with
regard to any individual. Ethnographic
photographer describes his style best.
Figure XXVII. H. S. Poley. "Chief
Piah selected by Bureau of
Ethnology as typical Ute." 1894.
Denver Public Library
Horace Poley had an interest in both ethnology and photography. He
started a photography business in Colorado Springs in 1888. After a fire
destroyed his business, he worked for the Post Office but continued his
photography on archeological expeditions during his summer vacations.96 In
the summer, Poley gave free illustrated talks on Indians to all patrons of the
streetcars at Stratton Park, in Colorado Springs, sometimes using his "magic
lantern" to show his lantern slides. One subject of his talks was "The Ute 9
95 Thomas McKee, Discussions of Photography and the West, Four Winds. V.i #4 12.
96 Horace S. Poley, Clips, Biography, Denver Public Library.
Indians at Home."9? This is reminiscent of Catlin's Indian Galleries. Poley's
images of Native Americans were of either individuals or groups. They always
showed the complete person or group, in their environment, possibly in front
of their tipi or doing a dance, and he rarely uses a close-up, except for perhaps
ethnological purposes. As with McKee, the subjects were void of expression.
Both McKee and Poley shared the common thread that they were
commercial photographers working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century, having studios in Colorado, doing a variety of portraiture. Their
images come after the survey photos had already shown the west to viewers in
the east. Their images generally illustrate "Indianess," were descriptive,
sometimes explaining the Native American culture but lacked in going deeper
about the individual and lacked any integration with Anglo Americans. Poley
was the last male Colorado photographer of note in the early twentieth
In Gendered Stylistic Differences Between Photographers of Native
Americans at the Turn of the Century, Bobbi Rahder states a group of
overlooked photos came to light, all taken by women, depicting Native
Americans not as stereotypes but as human beings, not as a vanishing way of
life, but as a changing culture. She asserts the lack of recognition of women
regarding their neglected images, as a contribution to the predominantly male 97
97 Colorado Springs Gazette, July 27,1915.
historical record.^8 There could be some debate on her statement in totality.
As well, differences in style between photographs taken by men and
photographs taken by women opens up a broad topic. Undeniable however, is
the volume of popular images taken by men is certainly larger than the
unknown, or recently acknowledged, ones taken by women.
How the photographer approaches a human subject and what his or her
perception of that subject is can certainly dictate how the image will look and
defines his or her style. If the viewer examines all styles of images taken of any
given culture, then they have a better-rounded understanding of that culture.
The late nineteenth century provided an atmosphere in which technological
innovations, such as the dry plate and roll film cameras, increased the number
of women photographers, and instigated a change in societal attitudes
regarding a woman as a photographer. In contrast to many of the male
photographers during the late nineteenth century, money was not always the
motivation of women photographers. 98
98 Rahder, Gendered Stylistic Differences Between Photographers of Native Americans at
the Turn of the Century, 87.
The first woman photographer of note
examined, while more national, had
Colorado roots. Gertrude Kasebier came
to Colorado from Iowa with her family at
age seven in 1859. The city of Golden
elected her father, John Stanton, as their
first Mayor in i860. He died suddenly in
1864. Following that, her family moved to
After some art education, Kasebier
opened up her own studio in New York in
1897 doing primarily mother and child motifs. She is known as the leading
woman pictorialist of the late nineteenth century and encouraged other
women to take up photographic careers.99 100
I earnestly advise women of artistic tastes to train for the unworked field of
modern photography. It seems to be especially adapted to them, and the few
who have entered it are meeting a gratifying and profitable success.101
Kasebier saw one of Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows and became intrigued by
the Native Americans. She started photographing the Sioux. Some describe
99 Barbara L. Michaels, Gertrude Kasebier, The Photographer and Her Photographs. (NY:
Abrams. 1992) 13.
100 Peres, ed. Focal Encyclopedia of Photography 4th ed., 262.
101 Michaels, Gertrude Kasebier, The Photographer and Her Photographs. 44.
her images as intuitive and sensitive,
reflecting the compassion she felt for her
Kasebier's approach was to play
hostess for many of the Native American
friends at her home as well as at her
studio in New York. Her images not only
included the men but also images of
their wives and families, including life in
Buffalo Bill's temporary Indian village. In
the case of one Sioux woman Zitkala-Sa,
also known as Gertrude E. Simmons Bonnin, Kasebier illustrated Zitkala-Sa's
conflict between her Anglo and Native American ways. Kasebier's
photographs show the woman as both a Native American and an
Americanized woman. In one photograph, Zitkala-Sa wears western dress yet
carries a basket implying the cultural conflict between her eastern and Native
American heritage. Her eyes stare thoughtfully, possibly concerned, but not
toward the viewer. Other images might show a Native American couple
smiling and touching, looking directly into the camera to engage the viewer,
102 Paula Richardson Fleming, North American Indians in Early Photograph (New York:
Dorset P, 1988), 214.
not common for images of Native Americans. Kasebier allowed her Native
American subjects to wear contemporary dress so the viewer could catch a
glimpse of the subject's personality. 1Q3
Besides having a Colorado connection, Kasebier is included here due to her
influence on Colorado Native American photographer Laura Gilpin. Born in
1891, a generation later, Gilpin was also a pictorialist photographer.
Additionally she studied at the Clarence White School of Photography in New
York City, which emphasized modernism. Gilpin goes slightly over the time
examined here as her book, The Enduring Navajo (or Navaho, as she chose to
spell it) was not
published until 1968.
Still, her beginning
period examined in this
paper. She became
Americans in 1904 after Figure XXX. Laura Gilpin. "Boy With Sheep." 1932.
Amon Carter Museum
103 Rahder, Gendered Stylistic Differences Between Photographers of Native Americans at
the Turn of the Century, 92.
photographing the Igarotis, a
Philippino tribe imported as a
midway attraction at the St.
Louis World's Fair.'4 After her
schooling, Gilpin settled in
Colorado Springs in 1918 where
she opened a photography
studio. She became actively
involved in taking pictures of
Native Americans in the
southwest in 1920. Gilpin's
original style echoed Curtis but,
unlike Curtis, Gilpin, as did
Kasebier, recognized and recorded the change coming about in Native
Americans. Her style shows a wonderful rapport between herself and her
Traveling the southwest with a friend, Elizabeth Forster, Gilpin
photographed extensively the southwest areas and people. Forster eventually
became a field nurse on the Navajo reservation and Gilpin would come and io
io4 Marni Sandweiss, "Laura Gilpin's Indians An Enduring Image." (Four Winds Fall 1980:)
visit.10s As the Navajo became used to seeing Gilpin around, and sensed her
empathy for their way of life, they became very trusting of her, which led to
expressions on her subjects' faces that appear open and trusting.
The image Navaho Woman, Child, and Lambs is, perhaps, the best
example. None of the subjects in the image looks as if the camera intimidates
them. Rather, they appear to us as if they are friends of hers she had met
during the course of the day. Martha Sandweiss, Gilpin's biographer noted,
"Her photographs are less about change than about the timeless and enduring
qualities of the land and its people."* 106 The viewer is aware of not only what
Gilpin saw but also what she felt
105 Sandweiss, "Laura Gilpin's Indians An Enduring Image," 54.
106 Martha A. Sandweiss, Laura Gilpin an Enduring Grace (Fort Worth, Tex: A. Carter
Museum, 1986.) 11.
CHAPTER IV CONCLUSION
The goal of this study was to look at, as best as possible, the three players in
a photograph, the subject, the photographer, and the viewer and attempt to
find out why each one of them wanted to be in that position, their
observations of themselves in that position, and their understanding of the
final result. It is difficult to answer accurately all of this, as much information
The subject's motivation, regarding having their picture taken, varied.
Some, like Keokuk, in 1840, desired to have their images taken, wanting an
image of himself for his family. A number, such as Geronimo, posed for
money. Sitting Bull signed a contract with Buffalo Bill, in 1895, for exclusive
rights to selling pictures of himself.10? Unfortunately, for the Native
Americans who did not profit, this was rare. Several posed for trinkets or for
the promise of payment with a photo. Photographers, such as Updike, would
provide prints for their subjects. Some allowed their picture to be taken
because they were curious.
A few subjects had their pictures taken, as they wanted to look. A handful
were collaborators, knowing or unknowing, with the photographer regarding
107 Sandweiss ed., Print the Legend, 230.
pose or dress. Several were unaware their photograph was being taken or
were chased by the paparazzi photographers of the day. Jackson remarked
that Chief Ouray would ask him questions about photography and said, "any
man's right not to be photographed was his own, and for a while, he would
readily sit for us, himself, he would not issue any orders."108 A few Native
Americans saw the value of portraits of themselves or their families as would
any Anglo American subject. As did Ouray, some Native American subjects
saw having their image taken as a way to know the white man better and in
Ouray's case, it seemed to work given what was written about him. Ouray and
another Ute Chief, Buckskin Charlie, regularly had images of themselves,
perhaps as they saw physical changes in age.
Both Barthes and Sontag viewed the photograph as being something about
the dead showing the subject's mortality and the inevitability of change. If a
subject sees photographs in general as something beautiful, it is conceivable
that the subject's perception of those photographs could be as beautiful if he
or she had a desire to have his or her image taken. While this could indicate a
narcissistic outlook, it could also simply mean a self-confident one. It is
normal for most subjects to want to look their best prior to having their image
taken and it is normal to rebuke the camera when it doesn't deliver what the
subject feels they should look like. This need to look good on the part of the
108 Jackson, Time Exposure the Autobiography of William Henry Jackson; with an
introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz, 226.
subject may have paved the way for the position of photo retouching. Barthes
made an interesting comment on resemblance of images of himself. He said,
"all I look like is other photographs of myself." In contrast, he found images of
others a likeness if that image conformed to his perception of the subject.10^
In general, how the subject may interpret his or her image is oftentimes
very close to how a subject perceives himself or herself. When the subject sees
the image, they will either agree with what the photographer has done or
disagree. The subject is certainly the most critical judge and will interpret the
image as being too this or not enough that. Unfortunately, I found no evidence
for or against this regarding Native Americans subjects. However, in looking
at photographs of Ouray and Keokuk, most facial expressions exuded a
confidence that shined through. Photography, in contrast to painting, depicts
reality as well as providing beauty. This provides the tension the subject has
with an image of himself as well as the apprehension felt when having a
subsequent image taken.
Native Americans, many times, based their interpretation of photography
on experiences, especially if a photographer came before and there was a
subsequent outbreak of some illness. It could be declared bad medicine, or in
the case of the Ute chiefs, "no bueno." Other tribes, such as the Lakotas and *
l9 Barthes, Camera Lucida, 102.
the Blackfeet, considered the ability to reproduce one's likeness as good
There is no doubt that between 1850 and 1920, Native American
photographs were a big business for photographers and money was the
motivator for many. Photographers sold images to books and magazines. As
well, photographers put on the market carte de visites, stereographs,
postcards, and cabinet cards. Major John Wesley Powell in the first six
months of 1874 netted $4,100 from his percentage of the sale of views taken
largely by John Hillers.110
Other photographers wanted to document the vanishing race in a variety of
styles. Some photographed for an inventory, others for documentations, and
still more for anthropological reasons. However, there was no specific way,
written or otherwise, from which photographers could "correctly" do this.
Curtis probably was the closest to achieving this. It cost him his marriage and
thirty years of his life. Regrettably, many of his images have incorrect
depictions due to the erroneous clothing. In any event, Anglo photographers
took pictures for an Anglo audience. In addition to the two forces in portrait
photography on the subject, who the individual thinks he is and whom he
wants others to think he is, Barthes cites two more forces on the
110 Gulliford, Andrew. "Interpreting Historic Photographs of Native American." Haves
Historical Journal (Nov. 1992:) 24.
photographer. The subject also is someone who the photographer thinks he
or she is and the one the photographer makes use of to exhibit his art.111
Stereotypes and selective perception affect the photographer. What is
included, such as clothing or medals, is no more important than what the
photographer chooses to exclude, such as with Curtis leaving out any signs of
modernity. In addition, many of the images had captions, written text on the
front, biographies on the back, or as did the Indian Gallery, oral explanations
such as did Poley in Colorado. With the written text, the American public did
not have to make any moral decisions regarding the United States expansion
into the west. They could just assume the information written, such as "hostile
Indians," was correct.
The photographer could depict Native Americans as the enemy, the
victims, or the prisoners. Placing a native weapon in their hands, such as did
Hillers or Chamberlain, while giving an air of authenticity, also reinforced to
the viewer that the Native Americans were still dangerous. Showing a man, or
especially a woman, with a bare chest, would portray the Native Americans as
uncivilized, strengthening the idea of the United States Manifest Destiny
policy. The viewer would not be aware of the fact that this was common within
some southwest Native American cultures, especially where temperatures
reached into the nineties. When the photographer chose to add clothing,
111 Barthes, Camera Lucida, 13.
nineteenth century ethnologists did not place culturally correct clothing as a
priority. Tourists, with no preconceived notion of any correctness, many
times, provided a more realistic view of how things really were.
It was unknown how much knowledge a portrait photographer needed to
have regarding their subject so they could effectively portray him or her in the
image. Sontag sometimes views cameras as predatory weapons that "violate
them [the subject], by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having
knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can
be symbolically possessed.112 Images taken early on merely described the
subject whereas later images, such as Gilpin's, told more and were taken more
in concert with the subject.
Anglo American viewers craved photographs and readily purchased them
in a variety of forms. The literature and paintings set this up. Photographs
were easily reproduced making their purchase more affordable than a
painting. Pictures of those who were different could be viewed at leisure
comfortably, especially if the gaze of the subject was not at the viewer. Some
Native American viewers enjoyed having photographs of loved ones or of
Images came to the viewer of this time in a variety of ways, amongst them
through the Great Exhibitions, magazines, newspapers, private publications,
112 Sontag, On Photography, 14.
shop windows, art exhibitions, and by the viewers actually taking the picture
themselves. One could fantasize, romanticize, or even worship these new
images from some distant place, having never actually visited there.
Photographs were embraced more due to feeling than because of any critical
Barthes explains one way a viewer might find any particular photograph of
interest. As photographs became ubiquitous, Barthes found few photographs
to which he was truly attracted. Those to which he was, he discovered had a
duality he called a studium and a punctum. The studium (study, or given
cultural meanings that we understand at once) was present in many images
and aroused a "polite interest," and order of liking but not loving.n3 The
image informed based on subjects the viewer might find interesting. The
punctum (Latin for wound, prick, or punctuation, a personal memory based
not on the public archive but a private repertoire) is that which provided
poignancy to Barthes. Barthes mentions this is not to be confused with
surprise or shock. The photograph is at its best not when it shocks, but when
it has a meaning different from its literal one and makes the viewer reflect.
The public preferred images that confirmed Native American savagery,
1I3 Ibid., 27.
especially after hostilities ended. The punctum exists in not only the
photograph but also in what the viewer, in Barthes judgment, adds to it.llzt
As not everyone could afford to travel far, even with the advent of
steamships and locomotives, many viewed and acquired images, as was the
pastime of this era, especially to areas that were remote. The stereograph was
an important image for a viewer. This allowed a possession of the subject
matter, if only visually, that one could not visit. The American viewer believed
in the authenticity of the photograph. Stereography provided an extra realism
as well as igniting one's imagination. Collected stereographs were the
"television" of the day.
Photographs provide the viewer with an immediate access to and proof of
the past. On my last trip east to see my family, my sister provided me with a
photograph taken in 1907 of my great-grandmother in a casket. While
certainly an unwilling subject, or at least not having a choice in the matter,
this image is my personal visual proof behind all the stories I had heard up to
this point from family members. I know this woman existed because I have
possession of the reality of her existence by means of this photograph.
The perception of the viewer allows that the person in the image was
indeed alive (unless a corpse) and real. In looking at an 1852 photograph of
Napoleon's youngest brother, it dawned on Barthes that he was looking at
n4 Ibid., 32.
eyes that looked at the Emperor. Further, when Barthes viewed a photograph
of a slave market that showed the slave master and slaves,
there was a certainty that such a thing existed: not a question of exactitude,
but of reality: the historian was no longer the mediator, slavery was given
without mediation, the fact was established without method. 1,5
The photograph becomes the recovery of the light rays reflected off the object
or, in Sontag's words, the delayed rays of light from a star. Therefore, the
photograph does not restore the past. Rather, it confirms it. If one takes this a
step further into a metaphysical sense, one can ponder: if the photograph is a
reference for then, why am I here and now?
Viewing images of those who have passed can be an ironic exercise in that
we look at the subjects and discover this forward future. Viewing images of
Native Americans who have passed is one example of this. Another more
recent example is The Tower of Faces. This is a collection of images at the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, taken of residents of Ejszyski, a
shtetl, a Jewish village, from 1890 until their demise at the hands of the
mobile killing squads on September 25-26,1941. In both cases, one realizes
the subjects are dead or are going to die. Barthes sees a relationship between
photography and death. All photographs, according to Barthes, contain a
demanding sign of our own future death.* 116
ns Ibid., 80.
116 Ibid., 97.
It would seem ironic that a public's desire for images of peoples far away
could skew their perception that a photograph depicts reality and truth. The
photographer's perception of the subject was sometimes an illusion created by
the photographer, yet this perception on the part of the viewer that a
photograph depicted truth led to an incorrect interpretation of the subject.
Empiricism, in this case, is equal to truth.
In referring to a person or event, Sontag mentions that photographs are not
interpretations of that person/event, like writing and handmade images.
Rather, they are pieces of reality one can own. This provides a power to the
viewer and, perhaps, an alienation from the subject.11? As a photograph,
especially a stereograph, is transparent, the viewer tends to look through it
rather than at it. It is not general knowledge if people send money to any
Third World countries because they have seen images of malnourished
children. Whether one chooses to do so will probably depend on their
viewpoint to begin with. Still, the subject matter, not the photographer, will
determine the viewers preference of the qualities of the attributes of the
Situations that were in existence when the photographer took the image
might have changed as time passed, but for the viewer, these realities created
by the images remain in their possession. This was unlike the ability of any *
"7 Sontag, On Photography, 4.
viewer to acquire a reality in the past without images, as reality remains only
in the present.
My personal reality to the past becomes existent in a photograph of my
grandfather taken at approximately the age I am now. My possession of this
image and realization that yes, I do look like him, links a reality of his past to
my present. However, one can always posit, is all this a real or an unreal?
Barthes would call it the living image of a dead thing.118
Ironically, the use of the photograph defines what meaning it ends up
having, i.e., what context the photo is used for. One can possibly use a
photograph in a museum for something that makes the photograph no longer
about the subject. Rather, it may become a study about what one can do with
a photograph. It is ironic especially, if the photographer is striving for truth
yet the use of the photograph is not for the truth. Sontag mentions, "A
photograph is only a fragment, and with the passage of time its moorings
come unstuck. It drifts away into soft abstract pastness, open to any kind of
reading." Resurrected images from the past can change the context from
which the photographer took them originally. u9
In taking the photograph of the execution of a North Vietnamese prisoner
of war, Eddie Adams believed the execution was justifiable due to the actions
118 Barthes, Camera Lucida, 79.
9 Sontag, On Photography, 71.
of the prisoner prior to capture. I first came to know this image as a statement
against the war due to its use by those who felt that way. This change of
meaning can be disconcerting for the social photographer, especially down the
road as the meaning wanes. The image, rather than being a statement of truth,
ends up being used opposite of its original intention or as a work of art; a
thing of beauty; an object to be possessed. Incongruously, a humanistic
photographer, such as Curtis, in his quest to depict beauty, ended up
forsaking photography's ability to tell the truth.
Time after time this study encountered stories regarding images that were
lost in some fire, whether paintings or photographs. We can never recover
Stanley's paintings or Carvalho's daguerreotypes. We can only guess about
some unsuspecting relative who saw various old photographs and sentenced
them to the local dump, assuming they had no value. It is distressing to think
of all the history that was lost. On the other hand, who will discover some new
image? Perhaps some attic holds one more piece of the historic puzzle, taken
by some tourist or a Native American with their first camera.
Alexander, Edward. Museums in Motion. New York: Alta Mira Press, 2008.
Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. New York: Hill and Wang, 1980.
Barthes, Roland. "Rhetoric of the Image." 1964, Image-Music-Text, ed.
Roland Barthes New York: Hill and Wang, 1971
Bush, Alfred L., and Lee Clark Mitchell. The Photograph and the American
Indian. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Carvalho, S.N., Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West With
Colonel Fremont's Last Expedition New York, Derby & Jackson, 1857.
Catlin, George. Letters and Notes on the Manners. Customs, and Conditions
of North American Indians Volumes I & II. New York: Dover Publications,
Clark, H Jackson. Glass Plates & Wagon Ruts: Images of the Southwest by
Lisle Updike and William Pennigton. Niwot, Co: University Press of
Collier, Kathleen & Collier, Mary, The Photography of Joseph Collier. Pruett
Pub. Coo, Boulder, CO. 1983.
Current, Karen. Photography and the Old West. New York: Harry N. Abrams,
Daily Colorado Republican & Rocky Mountain Herald, June 26,1862.
Dippie, Brian W. "Photographic Allegories and Indian Destiny." Montana:
The Magazine of Western History Fall 1992: 40-57.
Fleming, Paula Richardson. North American Indians in Early Photographs.
New York: Dorset P, 1988.
Graulich, Melody, Lisa Macfarlane, and Nicole Tonkovich. Trading Gazes
Euro-American Women Photographers and Native North Americans. 1880-
1940. New York: Rutgers UP, 2003.
Gulliford, Andrew. "Interpreting Historic Photographs of Native American."
Haves Historical Journal Nov. 1992:19-35.
Hafen, L.R. The Colorado Gold Rush, page 219-220, reprinted from the
Kansas City Journal of Commerce April 6,1859.
Hathaway, Nancy. Native American Portraits 1862 -1918. San Francisco:
Chronicle Books, 1990.
Hirsch, Robert. Seizing the Light: A History of Photography. New York:
McGraw Hill, 2000.
Jackson, William H. Descriptive Catalogue Photographs of North American
Indians. Rep. no. 9. Washington: Government Printing Office., 1877. Print.
Jackson, William Henry. Time exposure the autobiography of William Henry
Jackson : with an introduction by Ferenc M. Szasz. Albuquerque: University
of New Mexico Press, 1986.
Jackson, William Henry. William Henry Jackson's "The Pioneer
Photographer" Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico P, 2005.
Johnson, Tim ed. Spirit Capture: Photographs from the National Museum of
the American Indian. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.
la Grange, Ashley. Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. New York: Focal
Lewis, Robert G. Native View Biographies. Denver: The Denver Public
Mangan, Terry Wm. Colorado on Glass. Denver, CO: Sundance Limited, 1975.
Maxwell, Anne. Colonial Photography & Exhibitions: Representations of the
'Native' and the Making of European Identities. London and New York:
Leicester University Press, 1999.
Michaels, Barbara L. Gertrude Kasebier. The Photographer and Her
Photographs. NY: Abrams, 1992.
Moore, Jr., Robert J. Native Americans A Portrait The Art and Travels of
Charles Bird King. George Catlin, and Karl Bodmer. New York: Stewart,
Tabori & Chang, 1997.
Oxford history of the American West. New York: Oxford UP, 1994.
Palmquist, Peter E. Pioneer photographers of the Far West a Biographical
Dictionary. 1840-1865. Stanford, California: Stanford UP, 2000.
Peres, Michael R. ed. Focal Encyclopedia of Photography 4th ed. New York:
Focal Press, 2007.
Rahder, Bobbi. Gendered Stylistic Differences Between Photographers of
Native Americans at the Turn of the Century. Journal of the West Jan.
Robotham, Tom. Native Americans in Early Photographs. Leicester: Magna
Rocky Mountain Herald [Denver] 23 June i860: 4.
Roessel, Charles M. They Shoot Indians: Photographers in Indian Country .
Thesis. Prescott College In Journalism, 1995.
Rosenblum, Naomi. World History of Photography. New York: Abbeville P,
Sandweiss, Marni. "Laura Gilpin's Indians: An Induring Image." Four Winds
Fall 1980: 52-62.
Sandweiss, Martha A. Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace. Fort Worth, Tex:
Amon Carter Museum, 1986.
Sandweiss, Martha ed. Photography in 19th Century America. New York:
Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1991.
Sandweiss, Martha ed. Print the Legend: Photography and the American
West. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York, NY: Picador, 2001.
Taft, Robert. Photography and the American Scene. New York: Dover
Truettner, William H. The Natural Man Observed. A Study of Catlin's Indian
Gallery. Washington D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979