The Outsider and the Native Eye: The Photographs of Richard Throssel

Created by Valerie Daniels, May 2002

Introduction | The Vanishing Race | A Member of the Tribe | Professional Photographer | Resources

A Member of the Tribe

People | Daily Activities | Games | Dances | Change | Innovations

Some of Richard Throssel's most striking photographs are the candid images of everyday life on the Crow Reservation. As we saw in his portraits, Throssel did not usually pose his subjects or have them wear traditional clothing. While he did use many of the techniques, aesthetics, and themes of photographers like Edward Curtis, the photos we will look at in this section belie the notion of a Vanishing Race. Instead of romanticizing the past, as some of Throssel's images do, these photos capture the everyday lives of a culture in transition

People

These are candid photos of people living on the Crow Reservation, in both traditional and contemporary clothing, performing everyday activities. Was Throssel more interested in capturing these candid images of daily life than other photographers, or did his adopted membership in the tribe allow a level of trust with his subjects that wasn't possible for outsiders?

Right, Crow Girls with Dogs, from the American Heritage Center exhibit,
Richard Throssel: Photographer of the Crows


Crow Indian Camp, 1910
Lorenzo Creel Collection, Special Collections Department
University Library, University of Nevada, Reno, Photo no. 810
In Native Nations

Unidentified Crow couple sitting in a tipi, ca. 1905-1911
Richard Throssel Collection, American Heritage Center,
University of Wyoming, Not numbered
In Native Nations

Crow Tribal Police
From American Heritage Center exhibit,
Richard Throssel: Photographer of the Crows
BACK TO TOP

Daily Activities

In addition to the images above, Throssel captured candid shots of people involved in daily activities, such as the photograph to the left of Clara White Hip, from the American Heritage Center exhibit, Richard Throssel: Photographer of the Crows. The photos below show a group mixing the tobacco seed for planting, and then planting the tobacco seed.


Mixing the Tobacco Seed for Planting, ca. 1905-1911
Richard Throssel Collection, American Heritage Center,
University of Wyoming, Not numbered
In Native Nations

The Tobacco Planting, ca. 1905-1911
Richard Throssel Collection, American Heritage Center,
University of Wyoming, Photo no. 235
In Albright, Crow Indian Photographer
BACK TO TOP

Games

Throssel also photographed some of the popular games of the Crow Indians. Below on the left is a photograph of the game of arrows, and on the right the game of shinny. Both images are from the American Heritage Center exhibit, Richard Throssel: Photographer of the Crows. The larger version of The Game of Arrows appears in Tamara Northern's To Image and To See.

BACK TO TOP

Dances

Throssel photographed many Crow Indian dances. He had access to ceremonies that outsiders, such as Curtis, did not, but he shared this rare image of a North Cheyenne animal dance, along with a description with Curtis. Curtis copyrighted the photograph himself and included it in the 6th volume of The North American Indian in 1911, crediting only the description to Throssel. Below are some of the other dances that Throssel photographed.

Left, The Owl Dance, 1905, National Anthropological Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress Collection, Photo no. 95-1386, In Albright, Crow Indian Photographer

Center, A War Dance, 1905, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs, Photo no. 8V012, LCUSZ62-77116, In Albright, Crow Indian Photographer

Right, Crow War Dancers, ca. 1905-1911, Richard Throssel Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Photo no. 306, in Native Nations


The Animal Dance, 1909
Richard Throssel Collection, American Heritage Center,
University of Wyoming, Photo no. 977
In Albright, Crow Indian Photographer
BACK TO TOP

Change

The following series of photographs portrays a culture in transition. From the tipi frame, to the finished tent with a pile of logs beside it, to the two types of dwellings side by side, aptly titled The Old and the New, these photos depict the Crow Indians adapting, rather than focusing on a past that might be "vanishing."

Left, Tipi Frame, from the American Heritage Center exhibit, Richard Throssel: Photographer of the Crows

Center, Untitled Image of Tipi, Tent, Hewn Logs, ca. 1905-1911, Richard Throssel Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Photo no. 189, in Albright Crow Indian Photographer

Right, The Old and the New, ca 1910, Graham and Susan Nash Collection, Los Angeles, Photo no. 826, in Albright Crow Indian Photographer

BACK TO TOP

Innovations

While Throssel did learn many of his photography techniques from Curtis, as we have seen, he did have some innovations of his own. One of the most striking elements of Throssel's style is his ability to capture the sense of motion. Perhaps this stems from the candid, rather than posed, nature of a lot of his images. Below are some of the images we have seen that exemplify this technique


Professional Photographer


Introduction | The Vanishing Race | A Member of the Tribe | Professional Photographer | Resources