Prior to the arrival of Europeans, ethnologists say North America's 5 million indigenous people were divided geographically into nine culture groups. Each group consisted of many different tribes. The use of the term North American Indians in reference to all the people of the continent is not intended to ignore the great differences among these people.
The Europeans influenced and modified the Indian cultures for three-and-a-half centuries before the first photographs were taken. Early photography, as a relatively recent development, was most effective in recording the physical appearance of individual Indians. Many important events in Indian history predate photography, or simply were not covered.
Also photographs do not always convey areas of cultural differences. In trying to photograph various Indian people, ceremonies, or events, the difference between the Indian and non-Indian world view are rarely shown. When a particular ceremony is photographed it shows the type of clothing worn or objects used during the ceremony. The physical objects used by Indian societies are mere representations of how Indians put their values and beliefs into action. The values are of primary importance in understanding what it is to be Indian; the material aspects are secondary.
Aside from the above limits, the stereographs shown in this collection offer a wonderful view into their particular part of time. Enjoy them. Please Note: The original photograph titles have been preserved, even though some of the wording would not be appropriate by today's standards.
Descriptive information was taken from the following references, and a Jan 22, 1998 interview with Jacques L. Condor (Maka-Tai-Meh) Algonkin Elder and Native American scholar - Educator.
Southwestern Indian Ceremonials - Tom Bahti © 1979 KC Publications
Kachinas: a Hopi artist's documentary - Barton Wright ©1973 The Heard Museum
The Native Americans - William C. Sturtevant © 1991 SMITHMARK Publishers.
The NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS in early photographs - Pauls Richardson Fleming © 1992 Barnes & Noble