Curtis Supporters & Sponsors

Medicine Crow—Apsaroke

Born in 1848, Medicine Crow was a member of the Newly Made Lodge clan and of the Lumpwood organization. At eighteen he fasted four days and three nights, when a spirit resembling a white man appeared and foretold the vanishing of the buffalo and the coming of many white men with cattle, horses, and steamboats.


Waihusiwa—Zuni

Kyaqimassi (“House Chief”) is the title of the Shiwanni of the north, the most important of all Zuni priests. Waihusiwa spent the summer and fall of 1886 in the East with Franklin Hamilton Cushing, and became the narrator of Cushing’s Zuni Folk Tales. A highly spiritual man, he vehemently upheld the traditions of the native Zuni religion.


Red Cloud—Ogalala

Born in 1822, Red Cloud received his name in recognition of his bravery. He became a leader of his tribe after the battle at Fort Phil Kearny in 1866, at which he killed Captain Fetterman and eighty soldiers. In the following year he led a party of several thousand, in an attack on a wood-train at the same post, but was repulsed with great loss.


Shot in the Hand—Apsaroke

Shot in the Hand was born circa 1841. Through fasting trials he earned hawk-medicine status within his tribe. He prepared a powder of a hawk’s heart, sweet-grass, and green paint, which he alway consumed before going into battle. He was shot many times in his lifetime, and was most known for leading the battle against the Sioux on Pryor creek.


John Pierpont Morgan

John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric. After financing the creation of the Federal Steel, he merged in 1901 with the Carnegie Steel and several other steel and iron businesses, including Consolidated Steel and Wire Company, to form the United States Steel Corporation.

Morgan was a patron to photographer Edward S. Curtis, offering Curtis $75,000 in 1906, for a series on the American Indian. Curtis eventually published a 20-volume work entitled “The North American Indian.” Curtis went on to produce a motion picture In The Land Of The Head Hunters (1914), which was later restored in 1974 and re-released as In The Land Of The War Canoes. Curtis was also famous for a 1911 Magic Lantern slide show The Indian Picture Opera, which used his photos and original musical compositions by composer Henry F. Gilbert.


Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858–January 6, 1919) was the 26th President of the United States (1901–1909). He is noted for his energetic personality, range of interests and achievements, leadership of the Progressive Movement, and his “cowboy” image and robust masculinity. He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the short-lived Progressive (“Bull Moose”) Party of 1912. Before becoming President, he held offices at the municipal, state, and federal level of government. Roosevelt’s achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician.

Born into a wealthy family, Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered from asthma and stayed at home studying natural history. To compensate for his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. Home schooled, he became a passionate student of nature. He attended Harvard, where he boxed and developed an interest in naval affairs. Published in 1882, Roosevelt’s first historical book, The Naval War of 1812, established his professional reputation as a serious historian.

After a few years of living in the Badlands, Roosevelt returned to New York City, where he gained fame for fighting police corruption. The Spanish–American War broke out while Roosevelt was, effectively, running the Department of the Navy. He promptly resigned and led a small regiment in Cuba known as the Rough Riders, earning a nomination for the Medal of Honor, which was received posthumously on his behalf on January 16, 2001. After the war, he returned to New York and was elected Governor in a close-fought election. Within two years, he was elected Vice President of the United States.

In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated; and Roosevelt became President at the age of 42, taking office at the youngest age of any U.S. president in history. Roosevelt attempted to move the Republican Party in the direction of Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses. Roosevelt coined the phrase “Square Deal” to describe his domestic agenda, emphasizing that the average citizen would get a fair share under his policies. As an outdoors-man and naturalist, he promoted the conservation movement. On the world stage, Roosevelt’s policies were characterized by his slogan, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. Roosevelt was the force behind the completion of the Panama Canal; he sent out the Great White Fleet to display American power; and he negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was also the first American to win the Nobel Prize in any field.

Roosevelt became acquainted with Edward Curtis in 1904, when Curtis won a national portrait contest amongst eighteen thousand entrants. Curtis was invited to photograph one of Roosevelt’s children, which led to a close friendship between the photographer and the President. A great lover of the West, Roosevelt was very sympathetic to the plight of the American Indian, and he became an active champion of Curtis and his work. Roosevelt expressed his support and admiration in a letter of recommendation, which Curtis used in 1906 to approach J. P. Morgan, the man whose initial financial commitment made the first stages of The North American Indian project possible.


E. H. Harriman

E. H. Harriman (1848–1909) was a railroad executive, born in Hempstead, New York, the son of an Episcopal clergyman. He quit school at age 14 to take a job as an errand boy on Wall Street in New York City. His rise from that humble station was meteoric. By age 22, he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange. And, by age 33, he focused his energies on acquiring rail lines, including Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Saint Joseph and Grand Island, the Illinois Central, the Central of Georgia, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and the Wells Fargo Express Company.

In 1899, Harriman financed and accompanied a scientific expedition known as the Harriman Expedition to catalog the flora and fauna of the Alaska coastline from its lush southern panhandle to Prince William Sound. He organized a broad range of experts—arctic experts, botanists, biologists and zoologists, geologists and geographers, artists, photographers, ornithologists, and writers. Many distinguished scholars joined him where Edward Curtis and John Muir.

Others included John Burroughs, George Bird Grinnell, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and Clinton Hart Merriam. The expedition discovered some 600 species that were new to science, including 38 new fossil species. They charted the geographic distribution of many species. They also discovered an unmapped fjord and named several new glaciers.

On the trip, Edward Curtis developed a close friendship with George Grinnell, who was an expert on American Indian culture. After the expedition, Grinnell invited Curtis with him on a trip to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. Curtis, moved by what was commonly believed to be a dying way of life, spent much of his career documenting American Indian culture. Harriman paid for the creation of several sizable volumes of the discoveries of the expedition. When Harriman died in 1909, his wife devoted enough money to continue the publications.

Founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir, called Harriman “A great maker and harvester of the crops of wealth. . . who used his income. . . for present and future good, pouring back his gains again and again into new commonwealth currents to create new benefits, or to increase the fruitfulness of old ones after he himself had passed away.”