When it comes to old and well-worn stories, it’s unlikely new evidence will ever surface to change our perspectives. But in the case of famed ethnologist Edward Curtis and the photos he took of Native American tribes in the early 1900s, it’s worth revisiting the source material to learn something new.

These photos may have been taken over 100 years ago, but they might just be more powerful today than they ever were.

Canoes bring a Kwakiutwl wedding party ashore in 1914. 

SIL7-058-021, 8/15/08, 3:01 PM, 8C, 5338x5873 (264+1428), 100%, Custom, 1/30 s, R39.5, G27.5, B38.9 Edward S. Curtis

Dancers from the Qagyuhl tribe perform a sacred rite in 1914.

SIL7-058-20, 9/5/07, 3:47 PM, 8C, 5290x6520 (84+847), 100%, Custom, 1/30 s, R20.7, G8.4, B22.7 Edward S. Curtis

This portrait depicts a woman of the Wishran tribe in 1910. The craftsmanship is just unparalleled.

wishran-girl-profileEdward S. Curtis

This beautiful portrait of a young Jicarrilla girl was taken in 1910. The Jicarrillas are part of the Apache tribe.

Jicarilla maidenEdward S. Curtis

The beautiful and frank face of Hollow Horn Bear from 1907 would have been lost forever if these photos hadn’t been taken.

hollow-horn-bearEdward S. Curtis

This photo of a Hidatsa man carrying an eagle is so majestic.

hidatsa-man-eagleEdward S. Curtis

Sioux chiefs patrol their territory on horseback in 1905.

sioux-chiefsEdward S. Curtis

Piegan chiefs roam the plains in 1900.

In the land of the SiouxEdward S. Curtis

Two young Piegan girls in a goldenrod field, dated 1910.

piegan-girls-fieldEdward S. Curtis

Medicine Crow, a man of the Apsaroke tribe, pictured in 1908.

medicine-crow-apsarokeEdward S. Curtis

Navajo men ride across the plains of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, dated 1904.

navajo-riders-arizonaEdward S. Curtis

A duck hunter from the Kutenai tribe pushes out on the river in 1910.

kutenai-duck-hunterEdward S. Curtis

A Crow tribe mother and her child pose for a formal photo in 1908.

crow-woman-babyEdward S. Curtis

A shaman from the Apsaroke tribe looks into the distance in 1908.

apsaroke-shamanEdward S. Curtis

A salmon spear fisherman in 1923.

hupa-spear-fishingEdward S. Curtis

A man of the Crow tribe on horseback appears ready for battle (1908).

native-american-horseEdward S. Curtis

Curtis’s collection reveals the stunning beauty few were able to capture by camera so many years ago.

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