See beautiful Nez Percé Native American portraits by photographer Edward S. Curtis taken ca. 1903 with films

The Nez Percé are an American Indian tribe who live in the Pacific Northwest region (Columbia River Plateau) of the United States. The Nez Perce territory at the time of Lewis and Clark (1804-1806) was approximately 17,000,000 acres. It covered parts of present-day Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho, in an area surrounding the Snake, Salmon and the Clearwater rivers. The tribal area extended from the Bitterroots in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west between latitudes 45°N and 47°N.

The old-time warrior–Nez PercéThe old-time warrior--Nez Percé

In 1800, the Nez Perce had more than 100 permanent villages, ranging from 50 to 600 individuals, depending on the season and social grouping. Archeologists have identified a total of about 300 related sites, mostly in the Salmon River Canyon, including both camps and villages. In 1805 the Nez Perce were the largest tribe on the Columbia River Plateau, with a population of about 12,000. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Nez Perce had declined to about 1,900 because of epidemics, conflicts with non-Indians, and other factors. A total of 3499 Nez Perce were counted in the 2010 Census.

Edward Sheriff Curtis (February 16, 1868 – October 19, 1952) was an American ethnologist and photographer of the American West and of Native American peoples. In 1885 at the age of 17, Edward became an apprentice photographer in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Edward S. Curtis Self-Portrait


In 1887 the family moved to Seattle, Washington, where Edward purchased a new camera and became a partner in an existing photographic studio with Rasmus Rothi. Edward paid $150 for his 50% share in the studio. After about six months, Curtis left Rothi and formed a new partnership with Thomas Guptill. The new studio was called Curtis and Guptill, Photographers and Photoengravers.

In 1895, Curtis met and photographed Princess Angeline (c. 1820–96), aka Kickisomlo, the daughter of Chief Sealth of Seattle. This was to be his first portrait of a Native American.

Princess Angeline


In 1906, J. P. Morgan provided Curtis with $75,000 to produce a series on the North American Indian.This work was to be in 20 volumes with 1,500 photographs. Morgan’s funds were to be disbursed over five years and were earmarked to support only fieldwork for the books not for writing, editing, or production of the volumes. Curtis himself would receive no salary for the project, which was to last more than 20 years. Under the terms of the arrangement, Morgan was to receive 25 sets and 500 original prints as his method of repayment.

Above and below are a few of his portraits of the Nez Percé Native Americans.


Chief Joseph–Nez Percé

Joseph--Nez Percé

Nez Percé canoe

Nez Percé canoe

The scout–Nez Perc

The scout--Nez Percé

Watching for the signal–Nez Percé

Watching for the signal--Nez Percé

Blanket–Nez Percé

Raven Blanket--Nez Percé

Joseph Dead Feast Lodge–Nez Percé

Joseph Dead Feast Lodge--Nez Percé

Three Eagles, a Nez Percé Indian, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left

Three Eagles, a Nez Percé Indian, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left

Nez Percé sweat-lodge

Nez Percé sweat-lodge

Nez Percé matron

Nez Percé matron

A typical Nez PercéA typical Nez Percé

A Nez Percé

A Nez Percé

Nez Percé man, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, wearing bead necklace, with blanket over shoulderNez Percé man, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, wearing bead necklace, with blanket over shoulder – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices


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Discordance: The Cottinghams (Tapestry of Love) (Paperback)

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