Having practiced photography from an early age, Edward Sheriff Curtis shared a studio in Seattle in the late 1890s and within which a young Imogen Cunningham would apprentice. When the American photographer came upon a group of lost prominent scientists amongst whom the anthropologist, Gerard Bird Grinnell, he rapidly befriended him and was appointed as the official photographer of the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899. On another expedition, he became acquainted with the Piegan people of Montana and ‘It was at the start of my concerted effort to learn about the Plains Indians and to photograph their lives and I was intensely affected.’ As he continued depicting Seattle’s bourgeoisie as well as President Theodore Roosevelt’s family, Edward Sheriff Curtis was happier living amongst native tribes and produced an unparalleled documentary work of their lives that would be published, within his gigantic ethnographical encyclopedia, The North American Indian. In the late 1920s, after having worked on the set of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 Ten Commandments, the photographer returned to the tribes he was alarmed to find decimated by relocation and assimilation. Although some critics accused him of heavily staging his depictions and of ignoring the torments of his subjects, Edward Sheriff Curtis produced a timeless splendid vision of Native American culture at a time when modernity and America’s urban expansion was altering its territory and way of life.