North American Indian Women

The current historiography of North American Indians emphasizes the methodical eradication of the existence of indigenous populations across the continent throughout the course of European colonization. It isn't surprising that the images of North American Indians, most notably those by Edward Sherriff Curtis, made during the most intense period of this eradication, showed the exact opposite of the tragedies which were occurring. Curtis and others staged his subjects in their traditional garb and posed them in surroundings which suggested little or no impingement by the onslaught of development by settlers.

This highly altered version of events as seen in photographs also served to enhance other stereotypes of these "savages". Such misconceptions included a perceived lack of respect for human life, the torture and systematic murder by Indian warriors of white settlers and the lack of cultural refinement in general. One such refinement perceived to be missing in Indian tribal life was a level of personal hygeine, grooming and dress appropriate to the male and female genders. Without this basic level of personal "cleanliness", it was easy to see all Indians as unrefined, unclean, primitive and androgynous.

Return to Homogeny and Cultural Dominance

Oglala Lakota Woman

Little Hawk Woman

Wife of Slow Bull

Wife of Bull Head