The Work of Edward S. Curtis
Over the last 8 years of living in Seattle, I’ve heard the name Edward Curtis on several occasions. Curtis was a turn of the century photographer from Seattle, whose goal was to photograph every Native tribe in North America before their way of life was eradicated. This became a life-long pursuit that produced some of the most important (and in some realms, controversial) portraits of Native peoples ever captured.
In 2012, a book was written by Timothy Egan that chronicles this endeavor, from the birth of the idea all the way through the images being lost, and then rediscovered. If you haven’t read any of Egan’s works, I would highly recommend them. He has written on a wide range of topics, each of which combine historical facts and personal story. While I haven’t read Egan’s book about Curtis, “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis,” I have no doubt that it is excellent.
Here is a brief video about Edward Curtis that I came across earlier today, narrated by Timothy Egan, that offers a brief glimpse into Curtis’ work.