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Yvsa? are you familiar...

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by Kismet, Jul 29, 2002.

  1. Kismet


    Jan 30, 2002
    with the photos of Edward S. Curtis? Only in recent years did I become aware of him, and the photographic documentary work he did of native american tribes between 1917 and 1930.

  2. Yvsa


    May 18, 1999
    Kis, not that I'm aware of or have paid any attention too. I have a pretty fair library which includes the Time Life Books on the American Indian so I'm reasonably sure I've probably seen some of his photos without knowing about the man behind them.
    Now you've got me curious and I will pay more attention.
    The Time Life Books on the American Indian are some of the better ones around on ndn life in general.
    It's sorta ironic I guess that even most of the craft books on how to do ndn craft's are written by non-ndns.
  3. Kismet


    Jan 30, 2002
    or, at the very least, appreciate it.


    I first saw a volume on Antique Roadshow, then went looking for a copy I could afford.

    I found one published in 1997 by TASHEN publishers...with the complete portfolios...all though in 5x8 inch format.

    this from the Library of Congress web site
    The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis is one of the most significant and controversial representations of traditional American Indian culture ever produced. Issued in a limited edition from 1907-1930, the publication continues to exert a major influence on the image of Indians in popular culture. Curtis said he wanted to document "the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners." In over 2000 photogravure plates and narrative, Curtis portrayed the traditional customs and lifeways of eighty Indian tribes. The twenty volumes, each with an accompanying portfolio, are organized by tribes and culture areas encompassing the Great Plains, Great Basin, Plateau Region, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Featured here are all of the published photogravure images including over 1500 illustrations bound in the text volumes, along with over 700 portfolio plates.

    The North American Indian in the Northwestern University McCormick Library of Special Collections

    The North American Indian (1907-1930), by Edward S. Curtis, was published in a limited edition and sold by subscription. The lavishly illustrated volumes were printed on the finest paper and bound in expensive leather, making the price prohibitive for all but the most avid collectors and libraries. Subscriptions sold for about $3,000 in 1907; the price rose to about $4,200 by 1924. Although the plan was to sell 500 sets, it appears that Curtis secured only about 227 subscriptions over the course of the project. In 1935 the assets of the project were liquidated, and the remaining materials were sold to the Charles Lauriat Company, a rare book dealer in Boston. Lauriat acquired nineteen unsold sets of The North American Indian, thousands of individual prints, sheets of unbound paper, and the handmade copper photogravure plates. They lay forgotten in the bookstore's basement until their rediscovery in the 1970s, which marked the revival of interest in Curtis' haunting images of American Indians.

    The set owned by Northwestern was donated by J.P. Morgan, Curtis' sponsor. It consists of twenty volumes in original bindings containing text and illustrations and twenty portfolios of individual plates reproduced by the photogravure process.

    Each volume measures 12 3/4 inches high, 10 1/4 inches wide and about 3 2/5 inches thick. Each is bound in half leather, that is, the spine and the four corners of the front and back covers are covered in a high quality brown Levant morocco leather. The covers themselves are laminated binders board; the central panel on each board is covered with a heavy tan cloth. The text block within each volume measures 11 1/2 inches high, 9 1/2 inches wide and 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick; the text itself occupies an area 8 1/8 inches high by 5 inches wide on each page. Each volume has in gold foil stamping on the spine a simple line decoration with the set's title at the top, the author, volume number in roman numerals, tribe(s) in the volume and the publication date of the volume at the foot of the spine. The entire edition was bound by H. Blackwell, whose mark appears at the top of the front free endpaper.

    There are around 75 photogravure plates in each bound volume, with image sizes averaging 5 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches; each accompanying portfolio holds around 35 loose photogravure sheets, with image sizes averaging 12 by 16 inches. In total, there are 1506 plates in the bound volumes and 720 plates in the portfolios, for a total of 2226 plates."

    It is both tragic and magnificent. A testament to cultures and to the dedication of a man with a mission.

    I hope you appreciate it as I have.


  4. Yvsa


    May 18, 1999
    Thanks Kis!!!!!!!
    I scanned it briefly and saved it to my favorites file for more extensive study later.
    I can only wish it had some info on the Cherokee, but then I'm always interested in other tribes as well.
    This will be of great interest to some of my family and friends!!!!!!! I have a nephew who is Apache and Cherokee, talk about a wierd mixture.;)
  5. munk


    Mar 22, 2002
    !!!!!!! I have a nephew who is Apache and Cherokee, talk about a wierd mixture. Yvsa

    I'm naive, why is that a wierd mixture?

  6. Yvsa


    May 18, 1999
    Simply because of the differences in culture. The Cherokee come from a land of plenty with not much wanted for a good living while the Apache come from a root hog or die culture although it wasn't always so for them even though it was almost always easier for the woodland ndns.
  7. ghorka


    Jul 7, 2002
    than kyou very much for that interesting lead you put up for yvsa,i have been reading it for quite some time,it is facinating to say the least,i never realised how many different native american tribes there are,i remember a documentery i watched called the 500 nations, question for yvsa where abouts do the cherokee come from on the map at this site please, ie grat plains ect, and would that be correct that there were 500 nations, or would it be more ??. i have determined to learn a lot more about this facinating site.regards ghorka:)
  8. Matt H

    Matt H

    Oct 17, 2000
    Ghorka, IIRC the Cherokees originated in the American Southeast, specifically the Appalachian Mountains. There are still Cherokees here, in fact, particularly in North Carolina.

    Alabama in particular was inhabited by several Indian trides. Primarily the Cherokee, Chickasaw (again, IIRC) Creek and Choctaw. Farther north were the more well-known Huron, Angonquin, and Mohicans, made famous by James Fenimoore Cooper.

    In fact, the infamous "Trail of Tears" began in this region (around Alabama). Afterwards the Cherokee and others were moved forcefully to the western states such as Oklahoma.

    Alabama itself was named by Indians. I believe it is a Cherokee word which means something like "Thicket clearers".

    Of course, I'm sure Yvsa knows more about this than I do. The Cherokee are, after all, his people. :cool:

    BTW...Yvsa, I was just wondering if you knew anything about Gen. Stand Watee (sp?) and his soldiers? IIRC he was a Confederate General from Alabama during the Civil War, who became somewhat famous as a cavalry officer. I don't remember any particulars, but I'm sure he was Cherokee, and I think is the only Native American to earn the rank of general in an American army to this day.
  9. ghorka


    Jul 7, 2002
    yes i was under the impression that the cherokee nation was quite an important and large one ??? , but as yvsa says there is no mention of them here on this site??,i find that quite strange, as there are lots of tribes mentioned there that i and i am sure many others have never even heard of.:(
  10. firkin


    Jan 26, 2002
    Nice site...I'd seen a documentary on the photographer and what he went through to keep the project going. Quite a feat, and an interesting story in itself.

    It's good to see the internet used (at least once in a while) to make available materials like this that might otherwise be hard to access.
  11. Bill Martino

    Bill Martino

    Mar 5, 1999
    Good stuff and many thanks.
  12. Walosi


    Jan 10, 2001
    Curtis appears to have stayed west of the Oklahoma Territory, and perhaps for good reason. There were actually three moves from the east coast and Appalachians, by different sgments of the Cherokee. The first was voluntary, by people who foresaw the coming pressures in the Carolinas and Alabama - particularly the rumors of gold in the north of Alabama. The second was headed by Maj. John Ridge, then Principal Chief, who moved in response to the governments' pressures and threats. He funded a good part of from his own money, hiring barges for the portions that could be made by river, and what food supplies he could lay in, and buy along the way. This was a rough journey, but the death toll was from strain, disease, and old age rather than the starvation and cruelty that followed on the final passage. Another principal chief, John Ross, is rumored to have been paid 50ยข a head to provision the last of the Cherokee, who were rounded up, with no opportunity to pack or gather belongings, moved to stockades, and herded to the Territory. The death toll was sickening, and the gov't. was oblivious to it.
    When finally settled, the Ross faction accused the Ridge faction of having sold their lands to the gov't. (a death penalty crime by tribal law). Ridge was assasinated several years into this, alng with several of his supporters. This ross-Ridge feud boiled on for years, with as much if not more deep seated hatred as the North-South feelings after the war between the states. My family left the territory because of it, and resettled in the north of Texas, near Burkburnett, to return some years later. There are still hot spots of resentment to this day.

    Curtis would have had to enter the territory under the eyes of what had become several split-off factions, some in favor of his work, and others very suspcious of any outsider taking pictures and asking questions. Under tribal law, some of the killings were executions (if that was the side you were on). Under gov't. law, and that of the tribal council established by the original group to move into the territory, they were murder, and warrants were issued and pursued for years.

    Curtis may have been wise to go around the territory, taking pictures of relatively safer Cheyenne war parties.
  13. Kismet


    Jan 30, 2002
    by the Library of Congress, NOTHING compares to having the book.
    It's like being pummelled as you turn page after page(768 pp.) of men and women, in daily life, or their finest postures...all gone, yet so proud of their lives in the images, with cherished possessions in hand, things that made them happy, or strong, or of great dignity or stature within their respective communities.

    Each reflects achievement...not unlike our own, yet vastly different...and joy, tragedy, pride, sorrow, gain, loss...and all those stories...those moments...gone, unrecorded for the most part...of achievement and knowledge...humor and pain.

    Sometimes I hold a khuk in my hands, and turn it to catch the light, noting its shape, the balance of weight, the design for function form of it...and much like me....those whose images are in the book...held...the articles depicted with them..or on them...with the same scrutiny...perhaps the same sense of contentment that they had "this" thing..and it made their respective lives good, or better.

    I'm mostly alone so I get to conjecture on the lives of each of these individuals...from Curtis and his maniacal quest to get the images...to the men and women...to each of the individuals depicted and marvel at the similarity of feelings, desires, hopes, dreams and wishes....that we each, as memebers of a species...share. Different cultures, different needs, different ambitions...but the feelings of hope, want, need...are of a kind, and they, and I....are one for a time.

    The TASCHEN book was $30.00 when I bought it. Softbound.


    We're all in this together, somehow.
  14. Kismet


    Jan 30, 2002

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