Gallery Index > Southwest Photos
Edward S. Curtis returned to the high mesas of the Southwest numerous times while compiling his fieldwork for the North American Indian project. He was witness to many sacred Native rites including the Yebechai Dance of the Navajo, which Curtis was allowed to film. In 1906 Curtis visited Canon de Chelly and made one of his best known images. Entitled Canon de Chelly-Navaho, this serene image features seven riders on horseback, dwarfed by the thousand foot high sandstone cliffs as they ride peacefully through the canyon.
Fascinated with the extraordinary richness of Hopi ceremonial life, Curtis went back to photograph the Hopi year after year. The Hopi at Oraibi accepted Curtis to the extent of inviting him to participate in their sixteen-day-long Snake Dance, an honor awarded to very few white men.
Because the Pueblo tribes were not nomadic Curtis had the opportunity to photograph Pueblos where generations of families had lived. Some dwellings that are still in use today have been inhabited for nearly one thousand years.
In 1905 Curtis had the privilege to photograph the great Apache chief Geronimo, at age seventy-six. He made the image at the Indian School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the day before Geronimo participated in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade.
Of the twenty volumes and portfolios that comprise The North American Indian, five focus on the Southwest:
Vol. I, 1907. Apache and Navajo.
Vol. II, 1908. Pima, Papago, Qahatika, Mohave, Yuma, Maricopa, Walapai, and Havasupai.
Vol. XII, 1922. Hopi.
Vol. XVI, 1926. Tiwa, Keres, Taos, Isleta, Jemez, Cochiti, Sia, Santo Domingo, Acoma, and Paguate.
Vol. XVII, 1926. Tewa, Zuni, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Nambe, Tesuque, and Santa Clara.
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