[Photographer and ethnographer, b. 1868, Whitewater, Wisconsin, d. 1952, Los Angeles.]
To the oft-asked question, “What camera or lens do you use?” I can only reply “I couldn’t tell to save my soul—it is enough for me to know that I have something that will make pictures and that it is in working order.”
For every negative that is a disappointment, there is one that is a joy.
Fortunately, taking a picture leaves no mark.
I want to make them [American Indians] live forever. It’s such a big dream I can’t see it all.
I devoted thirty-three years to gathering text material and pictures for [The North American Indian]. I did this as a contribution; without salary, direct or indirect financial returns. When I was done with the last volume, I did not possess enough money to buy a ham sandwich; yet the books will remain the outstanding story of the Indian. (1937)
The thought which this picture is meant to convey is that Indians as a race, already shorn of their tribal strength and stripped of their primitive dress, are passing into the darkness of an unknown future. Feeling that the picture expresses so much of the thought that inspired the entire work, the author has chosen it as the first of the series. (Photo caption)
The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other... Consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once, or the opportunity will be lost for all time.
While primarily a photographer, I do not see or think photographically; hence the story of Indian life will not be told in microscopic detail, but rather will be presented as a broad and luminous picture.