PLEDGE NOW
Photographing Native Americans

The amazing story of the photographer who captured the last old ways of the Apache, the Hopi, the Sioux—Native Americans.

Chief Joseph by Edward Curtis.

Chief Joseph by Edward Curtis.

In the 1890’s, young Edward Curtis was a favorite portrait photographer in Seattle.  Nice little business in town.  Good clientele.  Then Curtis opened his eyes to the vanishing world of native America, and was transformed.  A man on a mission to capture the last great images of American Indians in their teepees and lodges, regalia and battered pride before their traditional world vanished.

It’s an amazing story.  Indiana Jones with a camera.  And a vanishing world of proud Apache, Navajo, Sioux, Cheyenne.

This hour, On Point:  capturing the last great images of traditional native America.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Timothy Egan, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, his new book is Short Night of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post “Sometime in early 1896, a young Seattle photographer named Edward Sherriff Curtis, already well known for his polished studio portraits of local civic leaders and business tycoons, decided to challenge himself and photograph a very different kind of subject. He chose “Princess Angeline,” aka Kick-is-om-lo, the sole surviving child of the great Duwamish-Suquamish chief for whom the city of Seattle was named. Roughly 80 years old at the time, Angeline lived in a dilapidated shack on the shores of Puget Sound, eking out a marginal existence by washing other people’s laundry for coins. She was regarded as “the last Indian of Seattle,” and Curtis thought she might make an unusual model for an afternoon’s sitting.”

Cleveland Plain DealerTimothy Egan has made a bonny career writing books of highly readable Western history. He won a 2006 National Book Award for “The Worst Hard Time,” a haunting and well-researched volume that rescued the Dust Bowl from airy abstraction.”

LA Times “Edward Curtis was given many names by the native peoples he encountered in his journeys across the North American continent.”

Photos

Check out this collection of photos by Edward Curtis.

Excerpt

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 4, 2015
A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (DHA/AP)

Migrant crisis in Europe. The Iran deal, cleared. A Kentucky clerk and gay marriage. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Sep 4, 2015
Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Serena Williams. The undisputed queen of tennis, and what she’s meant in sports and beyond.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 3, 2015
Journalists protest the murder of photojournalist Ruben Espinosa Becerril in Mexico City, on Aug. 2, 2015. (Marco Ugarte/AP)

Three Vice News journalists arrested in Turkey. A wave of journalists in prison. In graves. We’ll look at journalists worldwide under pressure.

 
Sep 3, 2015
A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the decision of the Federal Reserve, on July 29, 2015. The Federal Reserve may raise interest rates soon. (Richard Drew/AP)

Should the Fed finally raise interest rates? In spite of the stock market roller coaster? We’ll dig into the Fed weighing the end of free money.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Martin O’Malley On ‘Rigged’ Democratic Debates
Wednesday, Sep 2, 2015

Former Baltimore mayor and Democratic Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has single digits in the polls in Iowa but is out there swinging. He joined host Tom Ashbrook on Wednesday.

More »
3 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: August 28, 2015
Friday, Aug 28, 2015

You say #hashtag, we say, #forwhat? That, plus Usain Bolt and the ominous lurking Segway cameraman. Friday!

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: August 21, 2015
Friday, Aug 21, 2015

Do you even click? (And other reflections on link sharing and web commenting).

More »
6 Comments