Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)

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Edward S. Curtis -   Plate 139 Upshaw - Apsaroke border=
Plate 139 Upshaw - Apsaroke
Portfolio, 22 x 18 inches
Vintage Photogravure
With the money granted to him by J.P. Morgan for his North American Indian project, Curtis was able to employ Native American assistants to help him in the field. These assistants were interpreters, informants, and even friends. The most notable of his assistants was Alexander B. Upshaw a Crow Indian who had been well educated but had turned his back on “White” ways.

Upshaw was a tireless campaigner for Indian land rights and was much admired by his own people. He was employed by Curtis and worked with the project from 1905 until his death in 1909. He was essential in collecting ethnological data from members of a number of tribes, including the Sioux, Arikaras, and the Blackfeet. His hard work gained them access to ceremonies and more importantly helped with a thorough investigation of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Upshaw was an intelligent and trusted aide in the project, “In one sense Upshaw become more famous than any other member of the project except Curtis himself”, said Mick Gidley. It is safe to say, especially for the material on the Apsaroke and Hidatsa peoples, that Upshaw played a key role in Curtis’ ability to gain the relationships and acquire the knowledge he sought after.
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