Edward Curtis (1868-1952) is the most well-known photographer of Native Americans. His iconic, sepia-toned photographs of what he visioned to be "the vanishing race" have been admired throughout the world. Most Curtis photographs circulating today were taken from his historic work, The North American Indian (1907-1930), a twenty-volume photographic record of over 30 tribes of the western continent. Curtis' work was supported by some of the wealthiest and most influential men of his time, including George Bird Grinnell, J. P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt.
His passion for the Native American Culture began on his first journey to Alaska as photographer for the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899. He had photographed several notable Indians before, but this project would change the rest of his life. Curtis came to Alaska with preconceptions about Native Americans that were typical of his time, but on this trip he was much influenced by George Bird Grinnell, a man who had spent years among the tribes of the American West. Curtis realized that Native peoples in North America were changing, even vanishing. He decided that he had only a small window of time to create a permanent record of a people who had yet to face the storm of Western Civilization.
When the trip was over, Curtis used the connections he'd made to seek patrons for further photographic studies of Native peoples. But the fashion for Indian photographs faded even before the books were published and Curtis began a decline into obscurity. Plagued by debts and poor health, he continued to document the lives of Indians. After his death in 1952, much of his work gathered dust in archives and attics. More recently, though, his work has been re-evaluated, and it is in demand again.
Roger Pike, a long time Alaskan resident and visionary in the Alaskan art culture is one that has for years been fascinated by the works of Curtis. So much so that he commissioned Geanina Cantemir, a prominent Romanian artist to paint a series of Edward Curtis' photographs in their original sepia-toned colors. In this book, you will find the North American Indians in their natural surroundings as seen through the lens of Edward Curtis.