Edward S. Curtis gave up school in the sixth grade and decided instead to build his own camera. From that moment on, this was to be his life’s passion and through it, the Wisconsin native became enthralled by Native American culture, dedicating his career to recording the lives of Native Americans. He spent many years writing down their oral history, along with his observations, making voice recordings of their music and stories, and taking thousands of photographs.
Curtis’ ethnographic recordings are the only available source for some of the native North American cultures. His work is an essential part of many universities and institutions’ collections and original prints of his photos have been sold at auctions, such as in 1972, when a whole set was sold for $20,000; and again in 1977, when another was sold for $60,500.