[lives in South Pomfret, Vermont.]
How fitting it must have seemed to the victims of that process—the natives of North America, whose idea of “vision” is as spiritual as it is physical—when the white man produced from his baggage a box that had the power to transcribe the world onto a flat paper plane. Here was a machine that could make of this landscape a surface; of this territory, a map; of this man, this woman, this living child, a framed, hand-held, negotiable object to be looked at, traded, possessed; the perfect tool for the work of the “wasi’chu,” the greedy one who takes the fat.
Display of the captive before the camera lens, the condition Crazy Horse so ardently avoided, quickly became a ritual of power. The U.S. Cavalry photographically documented hundreds of captive Indians along their forced marches to penal colony reservations, and such images are commonplace in histories of the West.