Portraying Native America: Representations of American Indians at the Newberry Library

Friday, November 20, 2009
Programs for Teachers
History Channel Seminar Series

The Newberry Library’s collection contains a wealth of visual materials depicting the indigenous peoples of North America from the early periods of contact and conquest through the nineteenth century, when artists such as Catlin and Burbank produced their famous portraits.  Artists, anthropologists, soldiers, and travelers produced these representations in media ranging from singular drawings and paintings to mass-produced prints, photographs, and illustrations for books and periodicals.  In our presentation, we will compare these images created by whites with images created by Indians themselves in formats ranging from drawings in ledger books to fine art book-bindings. After surveying these evolving traditions of representation, we will consider the role of these images in shaping the identities and imaginations of various individuals and groups, along with the notion of cultural sovereignty – especially those of indigenous peoples, artists and other image-makers, and broader audiences.

Seminar led by Diane Dillon, Newberry Library and Scott Manning Stevens, Newberry Library