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Mosa Woman, Mohave. Photo by Edward S. Curtis, 1903. Duotone. Postcard.

Mosa Woman, Mohave. Photo by Edward S. Curtis, 1903. Duotone.

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Edward Sheriff Curtis (February 16, 1868 – October 19, 1952) was a photographer of the American West and of Native American peoples.

Curtis has been praised as a gifted photographer but also criticized by professional ethnologists for manipulating his images. Curtis' photographs have been charged with misrepresenting Native American people and cultures by portraying them in the popular notions and stereotypes of the times. Although the early twentieth century was a difficult time for most Native communities in America, not all natives were doomed to becoming a "vanishing race."

At a time when natives' rights were being denied and their treaties were unrecognized by the federal government, many natives were successfully adapting to western society. By reinforcing the native identity as the noble savage and a tragic vanishing race, some believe Curtis detracted attention from the true plight of American natives at the time when he was witnessing their squalid conditions on reservations first-hand and their attempt to find their place in Western culture and adapt to their changing world.

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