This article explores the importance of a unique and rich collection of photographs of Ho-Chunk people taken between 1879 and 1942 by Black River Falls, Wisconsin, photographer Charles Van Schaick. Unlike the collections of Edward Curtis who sought to capture images of a “vanishing race” for ethnographic or commercial purposes, these were photographs that Ho-Chunk families themselves commissioned for their own personal use, and for the most part, controlled how these images were circulated. Today these images are powerful representations of Ho-Chunk tribal and family history, and reflect a heritage of resilience. The stories the images convey of the importance of family, place, ongoing colonialism, and survivance are the central themes of the Ho-Chunk experience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Attention to how we begin to theorize the diversity of Indigenous peoples’ affective responses to these historic images will also be explored through an analysis of my own engagement with family images in the visual archive.
A Heritage of Resilience: Ho-Chunk Family Photographs in the Visual Archive
Amy Lonetree is associate professor in history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums (2012), co-author of People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879–1942 (2011), and co-editor of The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations (2008). Her research focuses on Indigenous history, visual culture studies, and museum studies.
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Amy Lonetree; A Heritage of Resilience: Ho-Chunk Family Photographs in the Visual Archive. The Public Historian 1 February 2019; 41 (1): 34–50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2019.41.1.34
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