In 1900, Curtis began an extensive photographic documentation of Native American tribes from the United States. His work carried him all over the American West and resulted in his first trip to the Hopi Mesas in 1900. Curtis' talent and topic caught the interest of many Americans including Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan. Morgan was so impressed that he advanced Curtis $75,000 in 1905 to complete and publish the results of Curtis' Native American studies. In 1930, he completed his Native America n study and published a twenty- volume illustrated encyclopedia of North American Indian life, containing over 1,500 photographic images.
Curtis employed a variety of techniques, but he is best known for his high quality photogravure photographs. Although his style was uncomplicated, he tended to romanticize his subjects by posing them with various props, including wigs.
In addition to his twenty volume set, The North American Indians, Curtis' photographs appear in many other publications. Curtis also wrote books based on his knowledge of Native Americans such as, In the Land of the Head Hunters, and Indian Days of Long Ago. Curtis died on October 21, 1954 in Los Angeles, California.
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Northern Arizona University
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