Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Understanding the Author's Purpose
Curtis selected this darkened photograph of Navajo riders "passing into the darkness of an unknown future" as the first illustration in Volume 1 of his twenty-volume study. He wrote this caption:
"The thought which this picture is meant to convey is that the Indians as a race, already shorn in 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."
Examine the photograph and analyze the caption.
- How did Curtis use this photograph to establish the theme of his entire work?
- What emotions does the photograph evoke?
- How effective are this photograph and its caption in conveying Curtis's premise that the American Indian is a "vanishing race"?