New York: Outerbridge & Lazard, Inc., 1972. 46x37.2cm: xvi, 176pp. First Edition. Published in Association with the American Museum of Natural History. Introductions by A. D. Coleman & T. C. McLuhan. Contains a selection of 175 photographs from portfolios of The North American Indian published as full page plates. The preliminaries consist of both introductions and a legend that contains each photograph’s title followed by a description taken from Curtis’s field notes or volumes. Quarter bound in black cloth over photo-illustrated paper boards. Gilt titling to black cloth on front and spine. Cloth fraying at the spine ends and along edges. The black is beginning to fade and has a faint ring stain. Gilt is also fading to the cloth on the cover, but not on the spine. Light wear to edges. Shaken binding. There is a 3cm black stain affecting the top edge near the hinge on the front endpaper through vii of the preliminaries. Creases to the front free endpaper. All plates are present and clean. Very Good.
Edward Sheriff Curtis, photographer and ethnologist, was best known for his photographs and documentation of the North American Indian during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Curtis worked for 30 years to complete The North American Indian, a 20-volume study of over 100 tribes with over 2,000 photographs. This extensive endeavor was dubbed by the New York Times to be “the most ambitious enterprise in publishing since the production of the King James Bible.” Over the years, there has been some controversy about his photographs being staged; using wigs or dress that were not generally used during the period and even taking out modern objects like clocks to show more historical renderings. The Smithsonian Magazine recognizes this and states “The photographs of Edward Curtis represent ideals and imagery designed to create a timeless vision of Native American culture at a time when modern amenities and American expansion had already irrevocably altered the Indian way of life.” Curtis must have felt as though he were racing against time to respectfully preserve and record the traditions for future generations before they vanished.
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