Born in 1868 near Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff
Curtis became one of America's finest photographers and
ethnologists. When the Curtis family moved to Port Orchard,
Washington in 1887, Edward's gift for photography led him to an
investigation of the Indians living on the Seattle waterfront.
His portrait of Chief Seattle's daughter, Princess Angeline,
won Curtis the highest award in a photographic contest.
Having become well-known for his work-with the Indians,
Curtis participated in the 1899 Harriman expedition to Alaska
as one of two official photographers. He then accompanied
George Bird Grinell, editor of Forest and Stream, on a trip to
northern Montana. There they witnessed the deeply sacred
Sundance of the Piegan and Blackfoot tribes. Travelling on
horseback, with their pack horses trailing behind, they
emerged from the mountains to view the valley floor massed
with over a thousand teepees - an awesome sight to Curtis and
one that transformed his life. Everything fell into place at
that moment: it was clear to him that he was to record, with
pen and camera, the life of the North American Indian.
Edward S. Curtis devoted the next 30 years photographing
and documenting over eighty,tribes west of the Mississippi,
from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. His project won
support from such prominent and powerful figures as President
Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan. From 1911-1914
Curtis also produced and directed a silent film based on the
mythology of the Rawakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest.
Upon its completion in 1930, the work, entitled
The North American Indian, consisted of 20 volumes, each
containing 75 hand--pressed photogravures and 300 pages of text.
Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio
containing at least 36 photogravures.