Famous Photographers - Part 21 - Richard Throssel

  
By:  buzz-of-the-orient  •  2 weeks ago  •  25 comments

By:   Buzz of the Orient and Kavika

Famous Photographers - Part 21 - Richard Throssel

Famous Photographers - Part 21 - Richard Throssel

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Richard Throssel

After a long hiatus, this is a return to the Famous Photographers series, and particularly about photographers who preserved the history of North America by photographing North America's Native Americans / First Nations more than a century ago.  I am happy to be able to collaborate again with Kavika in this partnership presentation to you.

From - The Outsider and the Native Eye: The Photographs of Richard Throssel:

Richard Throssel was born in Marengo, Washington in 1882. He was of Canadian Cree, Scottish and English Heritage. In 1902, he moved to the Crow Reservation in Montana to join his brother, Harry, as a clerk in the Indian Service office. He was not on the reservation long before he bought his first camera, and joined the ranks of contemporary artists taking photographs of the Crow Indians. He was influenced by several of the artists he met on the reservation, such as painter Joseph Henry Sharp and photographer Edward S. Curtis. However, unlike these other artists, Throssel was adopted into the tribe in 1906. He remained on the reservation until 1911, and during this time he took over 1,000 photos of Crow Indian life, many of them in order to document the tribe he was now a part of, but also as part of his work with the Indian Service, and for use in commercial exhibitions.

From - Wikipedia:

Throssel was also well known for his photographs of “Crow couples, families and children, which are especially striking as the love and warmth expressed by the families are so contrary to how we normally see Native men, women, and children depicted in early photography”. Even though Throssel was part of the early cliché style of depicting Native Peoples his approach also lent itself towards photographs of subjects caught in the moment. The Indian subjects of his photographs expressed a sense of familiarity that cannot be found in the work of non-Indian photographers.

What I felt was important to depict here was the nature of his photography, differing from that of non-Indian photographers, being a recording of normal every-day activities of Crow Indians. I was unable to gain much knowledge of his technical procedures or the type of camera he used save that he built his own darkroom to process his own photographs.

Once again, Kavika and I have collaborated in bringing you this article. Although I had obtained the photographs from various sources on the internet, and set up the structure of these articles, what is most important here is Kavika's description of and commentary on them. Many of the titles are original, and others have been added by Photograph Historians.

Here are 41 historically relevant photos taken by Richard Throssel, with the commentary by Kavika in green .

1. Crossing the Ford (or Crossing the River)   (1905)

Are they once again crossing the Little Big Horn  River? It lies within the boundaries of the Crow Nation.

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2. A War Dance on Crow Agency

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3. The Owl Dance (1905)

In the past, Owl Dances were for courting and socializing. Social occasions, such as the Owl Dance, were fun times for people of all ages. People had the opportunity to relax, sing, dance, visit, and tell stories. It was at the Owl Dance where boys or young men could dance with girls they liked, under the watchful eyes of family members.

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4. Mixing the Tobacco Seed for Planting

& 5.  Tobacco used by Natives in tradition is usually grown, cropped, and prepared very specifically for its purpose. Some tribes have special containers that hold the prepared tobacco until it is ready to use. When tobacco is ceremonially burned, the smoke is generally held in the mouth, and not inhaled into the lungs. Many tribes that burn tobacco believe that it carries their thoughts and prayers to their spiritual deities. Tobacco is one of the four sacred medicines to American Indians. The others being sage, cedar, and sweetgrass.

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5. The Tobacco Planting

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6. Unidentified Couple Sitting in a Tipi

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7. Waiting for Rations (1905)

This is a very ugly chapter in the relationship between American Indians and the US government. Forced onto reservations and their food supply cut off the US government supplied rations commonly known as commodity foods to the reservations. This led to widespread graft by Indian agents. The food was of low quality and much of it could not be tolerated by Natives. This ''program'' started many rebellions and all-out wars between Indians and the Government.

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8. The Old and the New (1910)

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9. Crow Girls With Dogs

Dogs were an important part of Indian life. They were used to pull a travois (sledge), guard the camp, and act as baby sitters. The American Indian dog was thought to have gone extinct but has been re-introduced and is a powerful dog, immune to many of the ailments most other dogs suffer from. They have a life expectancy of 18 years. They all have striking blue eyes and are not a wolf/dog mix. 

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10. Unidentified Image of a Tipi

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11. Tipi frame.

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12. Crow Tribal Police

Most tribes today have their ''Tribal Police'' and many are cross-trained to work off reservations with the local non-Indian police forces. 

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13. A Poem About Custer's Defeat

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14. A Proud Father Standing Before His Tipi Holds His Newborn Child   (1910)

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15. The Sentinel

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16. The Animal Dance (1909)

I believe that this dance is known as the Sun Dance. It is performed by all Plains Indians. It honors the animals of the plains but especially the Buffalo.

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17. Playing the Game of Shinny

The game of ''Shinny'' is still played by American Indians. It is much like hockey or Lacrosse. We would play it for hours when I was a kid. 

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18. The Tribe Honors a Woman Named Spotted Rabbit

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19. The War Dancers

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20. The Return of the War Party (1911)

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21. Custer's Battlefield

This is truly a historical photo. The grave markers of part of the US 7th Cavalry are quite visible.

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22. The Three Scouts

Crow scouts Curley, Goes Ahead, White Man Runs Him, and or Hairy Moccasin.  

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23. Playing the Game of Hurling Arrows

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24. A Family Grave Scaffold

When members of the tribe died they were placed on a scaffold and wrapped in a Buffalo robe. This practice was discontinued when the Buffalo herds were destroyed by the US government to cut off the food supply of the Indians.

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25. Clara White Hip Doing Craftwork

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26. Indians Eating From the Ground

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27. Shot in the Hand (1910)

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28. Showing the Better Class of Indian Home (1910)

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29. Interior of an Indian Tipi, Showing the Passing of the Pipe (1910)

This is part of many rituals and meetings. Commonly known as the ''Peace Pipe'' among non-Indians it is known by Indians as the ''Medicine Pipe'' and the term peace pipe comes from seeing it smoked after an agreement to a peace treaty between the whites and Indians. 

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30. Curly (1869 - 1923) A Survivor of Little Big Horn

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31. Chief King of the Wind

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32. Sunrise on Custer's Battlefield

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33. The Crow Reservation Under a Darkening Sky (1910)

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34. A Mother Holds Her Baby in Her Arms (1910)

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35. A Family Gathers in a Hut to Eat (1910)

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36. A Woman Bakes Pottery Over a Fire (1903)

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37. A Man Goes to Work Building His Tipi (1910)

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38. The Tribe Works Together to Build a Massive Tent for a Ceremony (1910)

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39. Camp at the Little Big Horn (1907)

In 1876 the Battle of the Little Big Horn took place. 33 years later this idyllic scene is photographed. 

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40. A Man Cleans Himself in the Water by the Reservation

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41. The Reservation is Covered in a Thick Layer of Snow, Here Called "The White Death"

Generally, snow on the ground was called ''The time of the white ground'' signifying winter. In this photo with the caption of ''white death'' I would surmise that it was a very bad winter that caused the death of many Crow people.

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Buzz of the Orient
1  author  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

A long wait for this, but for anyone who is able to take the time off from politics and virus worry, it is worth the time to view and read. 

 
 
 
devangelical
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    2 weeks ago

nice collection

 
 
 
Kavika
1.1.1  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1    2 weeks ago

Thanks devangelical.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
1.1.2  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  devangelical @1.1    2 weeks ago

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Raven Wing
1.2  Raven Wing  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    2 weeks ago

To both Buzz and Kavika, thank you for this amazing article of not only wonderful photos, but, also a very interesting and enlightening look into the real Native American way of life. The accompanying commentary brings the photos to life as well as helping to better understand what each of them represents.

One does not need to be Native American to appreciate the essence of these beautiful photos.

 
 
 
Kavika
1.2.1  Kavika   replied to  Raven Wing @1.2    2 weeks ago

Thanks Raven. This essay is one of my favorites.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
1.2.2  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @1.2.1    2 weeks ago

You're very welcome, Kavika. I can fully understand why it is one of your favorites, it really is an amazing essay.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
1.2.3  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Raven Wing @1.2    2 weeks ago

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Vic Eldred
1.3  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    2 weeks ago

Thank you Buzz. I think # 15 (The Sentinel) is a true work of art. There is a soul to this country and that photo speaks to it.

I also think # 30 (Curly) is fascinating. Was Curly one of the victors, or was he a scout for the 7th Calvary?  They were allowed to leave, before the battle, as I understand it.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
1.3.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.3    2 weeks ago

Maybe Kavika knows...

 
 
 
Kavika
1.3.2  Kavika   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.3.1    2 weeks ago

Curley was a Crow scout for the 7th Calvary. 

Curley and the other scouts, Goes Ahead, White Man Runs Him and Hairy Mocassin were all scouts for the 7th Calvary.  Custer was warned by the scouts that he was making a huge mistake. Reports have it that Curley was told to leave. There was much confusion as Custer split his command and Reno and Benteen headed in another direction and some of the scouts went with them. Reno and Benteen survived as did their scouts in a bloody battle separate from the Little Big Horn.

Chief Joe Medicine Crow of the Crow tribe who is a living legend as a warrior, soldier in WWII, author and historian was the last living person (white or Indian) to actually speak to the surviving scouts. In Joe Medicine Crow's early years he would translate for his great uncle, White Man Runs him one of the Crow scouts for the 7th Calvary. 

Joe Medicine Crow died in 2016 at the age of 102.

Hoka Hey

The rest is history.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.3.3  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kavika @1.3.2    2 weeks ago

Thank you

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
2  sandy-2021492    2 weeks ago

Thanks, Buzz and Kavika.

 
 
 
Kavika
2.1  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @2    2 weeks ago

You're most welcome sandy.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.2  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2    2 weeks ago

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A. Macarthur
3  A. Macarthur    2 weeks ago

Great collection of what could be called "Native American History & Genre"!

 
 
 
Kavika
3.1  Kavika   replied to  A. Macarthur @3    2 weeks ago

Thanks Mac, Buzz and I were quite happy when we discovered Throssel.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
3.2  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  A. Macarthur @3    2 weeks ago

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Perrie Halpern R.A.
4  Perrie Halpern R.A.    2 weeks ago

What an amazing collection of photos. Thanks for putting this together for us Buzz. I feel like I am looking back through a magic window. 

 
 
 
Kavika
4.1  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4    2 weeks ago

A window to the past, exactly.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4.2  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4    2 weeks ago

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Buzz of the Orient
5  author  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

A few extras from Throssel:

Dancing in the Firelight (1907)

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Crow Fair

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Tipis and Clouds

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Kavika
5.1  Kavika   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5    2 weeks ago

Great addition to the essay, Buzz.

 
 
 
pat wilson
6  pat wilson    2 weeks ago

Great photos, thank you both for sharing.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
6.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  pat wilson @6    2 weeks ago

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