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No, Not Even for a Picture: Re-examining the Native Midwest and Tribes’ Relations to the History of Photography

October 27, 2021 - February 26, 2022

No, Not Even for a Picture: Re-examining the Native Midwest and Tribes’ Relations to the History of Photography

From the 1830s to the early 1900s photography went from a specialized and labor-intensive scientific medium to a beloved hobby for many. Photographic styles and practices set visual trends, forwarded stereotypes, maintained myths, and, as always, operated within the ideology of the time. Throughout the same decades, twenty new states joined the Union, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota—leading to the assimilation and displacement of countless Native populations.

This exhibit examines the photographic styles and practices that recorded the people, activities, stereotypes, and myths of this important time, focusing on the “Three Fires” of the Anishinaabe — Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi.

Exhibition Curators:

Lindsey Willow Smith is an enrolled citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and an undergraduate studying History and Museum Studies at the University of Michigan. She is working on her thesis related to Anishinaabe identity in the digital age, as well as working at museums and research institutes at UM. Raised off reservation in Michigan’s lower peninsula, she embraces her Indigenous identity as a researcher in social sciences and museum studies.

Veronica Cook Williamson is a graduate student in the department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Museum Studies program. Her primary research focuses on racial(izing) processes in media and other cultural representations of ‘newcomers’ in Germany. She is also interested in discourses of “decolonization” and how digital media can facilitate public history.

She is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation — chickasha saya.

Additional Project Consultants:

Eric Hemenway, Director of Repatriation, Archives and Records, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Dr. Arland Thornton, Professor of Sociology, Research Professor, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphics Material, Clements Library

Jakob Dopp, Graphics Division Cataloger, Clements Library

Richard Pohrt Jr., Collector

Exhibition Support Provided By: