by Rodger D. Touchie
For almost three decades, Edward Curtis photographed the First Peoples of the North American West and studied their cultures. As part of his fieldwork, he cruised the Pacific Northwest coast and ventured into the lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy, both north and south of the Medicine Line.
“Alarmed that the traditional Aboriginal ways of life seemed in danger of disappearing forever, Curtis made an incredible effort to capture the daily routines, character and dignity of First Peoples through photography and audio recordings. Against seemingly insurmountable odds and at substantial personal and financial sacrifice, he completed the 20-volume masterpiece The North American Indian, deemed “the most gigantic undertaking in the making of books since the King James edition of the Bible” by the New York Herald.
With more than 150 photographs, Edward S. Curtis Above the Medicine Line is both a compelling narrative that sheds new light on the Curtis mystique and a fascinating overview of many of the First Peoples he studied a century ago.” – Heritage House
*Note from the Salish Weave Team:
Though Curtis’s methods were problematic (e.g. doctoring photographs to remove traces of contemporary life, providing costumes for his subjects to wear, etc) his photographs do provide important records of Indigenous peoples in the late 19th and early 20th century. This book includes a section about Coast Salish cultures.