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First terrace of Zuni, NM, showing ladders and utensils. (Photo by John K. Hillers, 1879)
Historic photos offer opportunities
to research, connect

By NMAI E-Newservice

NMAI's vast archive of images of Native life, dating to the 1800s, is available to the public, including by email

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NOTE: The National Museum of the American Indian is a Tanka retail partner and offers Tanka products in all of its gift shops and cafes.

Washington, D.C. -- In the photo archives of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, it is possible to travel through time to the late 1800s, to a fisherman at a Tlingit village, Pueblo people digging clay for pottery, or Brazilian men hunting.

The museum has a collection of more than 300,000 photographs, the majority from museum events, programs and objects shot since its founding. But the historic pictures, which span the entire Western Hemisphere from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, attract the attention of scholars and tribal peoples.

Many of the photos were taken between the 1890s and 1930s by anthropologists hired by George Gustav Heye, the businessman-turned-collector who obtained almost one million Native American objects in NMAI's collection.

"Few people were named," said Lou Stancari, who has been the museum's photo archivist since 1999. "You know what the location is. You know what year it is. You see objects that are now in the museum. You see photos of the object actually being used."

Some of the pictures are personal to the people who find them.

"'Oh, my God, that's my grandmother!' You hear it all the time," Stancari said.

The photo archives at the museum's Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Md., are open to the public. Visitors may view the materials by appointment. Tribal people who can't visit the archive may email, and request a search. The chances of finding something are better with a specific request, including location, event or even the name of a person.

Many photos have been digitized and copies can be emailed.

The photo archives can also be reached by mail at the National Museum of the American Indian, Cultural Resources Center, 4220 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD 20746.

To view a selection of the archived photos: Pictures of Native Americans in the United States

For more information: National Museum of the American Indian

Posted with permission from the National Museum of the American Indian.

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Tanka team on Fri Jan 29, 2010 13:34:2
The link has been posted to Facebook. Thanks!

LakotaKid on Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:48:55
Would you please post this linkon facebook?