Famous Photographers - Part 21 - Richard Throssel
By: Buzz of the Orient and Kavika
Famous Photographers - Part 21 - 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.
2. A War Dance on Crow Agency
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.
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.
5. The Tobacco Planting
6. Unidentified Couple Sitting in a Tipi
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.
8. The Old and the New (1910)
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.
10. Unidentified Image of a Tipi
11. Tipi frame.
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.
13. A Poem About Custer's Defeat
14. A Proud Father Standing Before His Tipi Holds His Newborn Child (1910)
15. The Sentinel
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.
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.
18. The Tribe Honors a Woman Named Spotted Rabbit
19. The War Dancers
20. The Return of the War Party (1911)
21. Custer's Battlefield
This is truly a historical photo. The grave markers of part of the US 7th Cavalry are quite visible.
22. The Three Scouts
Crow scouts Curley, Goes Ahead, White Man Runs Him, and or Hairy Moccasin.
23. Playing the Game of Hurling Arrows
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.
25. Clara White Hip Doing Craftwork
26. Indians Eating From the Ground
27. Shot in the Hand (1910)
28. Showing the Better Class of Indian Home (1910)
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.
30. Curly (1869 - 1923) A Survivor of Little Big Horn
31. Chief King of the Wind
32. Sunrise on Custer's Battlefield
33. The Crow Reservation Under a Darkening Sky (1910)
34. A Mother Holds Her Baby in Her Arms (1910)
35. A Family Gathers in a Hut to Eat (1910)
36. A Woman Bakes Pottery Over a Fire (1903)
37. A Man Goes to Work Building His Tipi (1910)
38. The Tribe Works Together to Build a Massive Tent for a Ceremony (1910)
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.
40. A Man Cleans Himself in the Water by the Reservation
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.