The North American Indian is one of the most significant and controversial representations of the Native American lifestyle ever produced. To this day it continues to exert a major influence on the image of Indians in popular culture. Published in 20 volumes from 1907 to 1930, each exhaustive set includes more than 2,200 photogravures, in both small and large formats.
Curtis photographed from Arizona to Missouri to Alaska, methodically documenting more than 75 tribes. He was acutely aware of the changes occurring in Native American culture and tended to idealize his subjects. Curtos sometimes altered hairstyles and costumes and was known to have removed evidence of modern life from his compositions. His finished photogravures were romantically printed in the closed, muted tones of pictorialism. William Crawford points out, in The Keepers of Light, that this soft, fine art effect, unfortunately ran counter to CurtisÕs documentary intentions.
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