Edward Curtis is a twentieth century photographer best known for his work photographing Native Americans during the period of 1907-1930. He was dedicated to photographing the Natives as he perceived them to be a dying race and was intent on capturing and documenting their culture before they became extinct.
As great, and as beautiful as his work is, it is not without controversy because his ‘dedication’ to documenting the Native Americans was not as authentic as he would have liked us to believe.
‘He presented his subjects in a traditional way whenever possible and even supplied a bit of the proper clothing when his subjects had none. Re-enactments of battles, moving camp, ceremonies and other past activities were also photographed.’ American Masters PBS April 2001
By doing this Curtis was dismissing their culture and replacing it with a myth that his suited ideology and vision, often manipulating his photographs. He did so by removing all traces of modernity and all elements of westernization to conjure the sense of ‘traditional’ identity. It was for these reasons why he was criticized by Ethnographers.