Thursday, June 12, 2008

Picturing the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla Tribes

Picturing the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla Tribes: Major Lee Moorhouse of Pendleton, Oregon was an Indian Agent for the Umatilla Indian Reservation and a photographer. From 1888 to 1916 he produced over 9,000 images which document urban, rural, and Native American life in the Columbia Basin, and particularly Umatilla County, Oregon. So extensive and revealing are Moorhouse's images that his collection is one of the preeminent social history collections for Oregon. Special Collections & University Archives of the University of Oregon Libraries has a collection of 7000 images by Major Moorhouse . . . .

The project’s intent is twofold: first, to make the Major Lee Moorhouse photographs of native peoples available to a wide audience; and second, to provide a site for historical descriptions of these images as well as descriptions created by native peoples.

Moorehouse is an interesting figure. His Indian photographs are more authentic but less artistic than those of Edward Curtis. Not that his photos were not compositions--as we see in the picture of two Cayuse women posing in front of blanket above (description here). A nice collection of Moorehouse photographs with an enlightening text is Peoples of the Plateau: The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915 by Steven L. Grafe.

This is another nicely done digitization project, with deep content and advanced search features. Especially welcome are the excellent and well-researched descriptions of each photograph. And you can download the images at will for use in the classroom--though of course you will need permission to publish or use the photographs in a commercial venture.

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