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.

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