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February 2003

The Posing Question

Did this Hidatsa hunter really catch this eagle? Maybe. Photographer Edward S. Curtis spent years documenting Native American cultures—including the Hidatsa, the people among whom Sacagawea lived as a war captive. Fourteen of Curtis's images (though not this one) appeared in the July 1907 Geographic, in which he says, "Being photographs from life and nature, they show what exists, not what one in the artist's studio presumes might exist." Yet Curtis is known to have posed his subjects, going so far as to supply them with props.

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Photograph by Edward S. Curtis