Photography of Native Americans, past and present


Photograph of Kiowa children, by Horace Poolaw, Oklahoma, 1928.

Teju Cole, a Nigerian living in New York City, is one of my favorite writers and photographers. In his recent column in New York Times Magazine, he compares the portraits by Horace Poolaw, Kiowa, with those by Edward Curtis.  Poolaw’s images show us “life as it was being lived”, while Curtis photos are contrived and “stilted”.


Cole then goes on to give shout-outs to a number of contemporary Native American photographers:  Brian Adams (Inuit), Josué Rivas (Mexica), Camille Seaman (Shinnecock), as well as the work of Daniella Zalcman, a non-Native covering the boarding school experiences of indigenous people in Canada.


One of Josué Rivas’ many iconic photographs from Standing Rock. 

All of this reminds me, a spontaneous crowd-source event has occurred at the Facebook page for Moses on the Mesa, a short film about a German Jewish immigrant living at Acoma Pueblo in the 1800s.  A discussion on the page led followers to begin posting old photographs of Native Americans, especially those not by Edward Curtis.  Click on Timeline Photos.  As I write, it was updated 18 minutes ago and now contains an astounding 6,866 photos, making it probably the largest on-line collection of Native American photographs.


Screenshot from the Moses on the Mesa Facebook page


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