Staff Pick from the National Museum of the American Indian

To mark American Indian Heritage Month this year, staff members from the Photo Archive at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), filled us in on the history of the collections  recently made available on the NMAI Collections Search website. As a follow-up, they are sharing their personal favorites from the archive. Today we hear from Lou Stancari, Photo Archivist, who reflects on a photo that will be digitized in the near future.

Old George and his family, 1899. Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Photo by Sumner W. Matteson, Jr. Smithson

I have always been struck by the contrasts in this photo: The partially assimilated family of the Diné (Navajo) man Old George, with bits of traditional clothing (like the headband and multiple necklaces), but also wearing European clothing and trade blankets, and using tin and ceramic European household goods. The dissimilarity with the well-dressed non-Native woman holding a child in the background is driven home by the barbed-wire fence separating the two groups.

The National Museum of the American Indian holds a diverse photograph collection of over 90,000 historic images which range from daguerreotypes to digital images, and is considered one of the most significant collections of American Indian images.

Lou Stancari of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

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