American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936: Images from the University of Chicago Library
The rapid expansion of the railroad and of settlement across the nation took place at the expense of the native people of North America and of their cultures. Through long and damaging processes of forced relocation and through outright extermination, the population of Native Americans in North America dwindled from ten million to two hundred and fifty thousand in the United States by the beginning of the twentieth century.
Images of native peoples in this collection represent the survival of complex native cultures with rich artistic and religious traditions. Search on Indians in North America to find these images.
- Why might the university ecologists have been particularly interested in Native Americans?
- In what aspects of these people's lives do the photographs suggest the ecologists were most interested?
- Can you draw parallels between the treatment and use of land in the nineteenth century and the treatment of Native Americans?
Photographs of Native Americans in an industrialized Southwest reflect the rapid and dramatic change that took place as railroads made the region more accessible. In this image, women and children balance large clay pots on their heads as they make their way through a diverse group of people on a crowded platform. Another photograph, taken in 1929, shows a Pueblo Indian on horseback in front of an automobile.