The Three Chiefs – Piegan, 1900, is, arguably, historically the single most important of Curtis’ 40-50,000 photographic images. The photograph was made in the summer of 1900 and is the key image from that critical, watershed experience in Curtis’ life. It was during this short field trip to Montana with noted ethnographer George Bird Grinnell that Curtis first encountered Native Americans whose culture was still largely intact and who were also willing to share their religion, mythology, and personal lives with him. This brief experience ignited Cutis’ passion for preserving a comprehensive record of Native American life. This two-week experience inalterably changed Curtis and his life was never the same again. It is said that in making this image of three tribal leaders in their traditional garb on a typical upland prairie that Curtis spent three days looking for the perfect combination of riders, sky, and prairie.