Blogs > Cliopatria > Images of Native Americans

Aug 3, 2006 1:53 pm

Images of Native Americans

Images of Native Americans have been a significant part of American culture almost from the moment of European contact with Native Americans. These images have often been more reflective of the perception of Native Americans in the consciousness of non-native Americans than of actual Native-American lives, and the images thus give cultural historians a method of studying these perceptions. This website helps advance that project.

This exhibit includes materials from rare books, pamphlets, journals, pulp magazines, newspapers, and original photographs. The illustrations reflect European interpretations of Native Americans, images of popular culture, literary and political observations, and artistic representations. The site has two main sections and a timeline.

“Portrayals of Native Americans” is divided into four themed galleries that together include more than 60 illustrations and 14 early photographs of Native Americans, including colorful images of western novel covers and portraits of southwestern Indians."The Nine Millionth Volume” is devoted to James Otto Lewis' historic volume, The Aboriginal Port Folio, first published in 1835-1836. It includes a series of hand-colored lithographic portraits of American Indian chiefs that was the first color plate publication of Native Americans. Fifteen of the original illustrations are available and an essay by Curator Anthony Bliss details the process of acquiring rare items. Clicking on the illustrations gives a new window with a large version of the image. The exhibit’s timeline (1500 to 1990s) allows users to browse the materials in a chronological sequence.

This website is an excellent resource for those studying the cultural history of the American West or Native American history and should be especially useful for those interested in how Native Americans were perceived in American culture.

Read a more in-depth review written by Bernard College/Columbia University Professor Elizabeth Hutchinson at

Or explore other website reviews at

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