Trading Gazes: Euro-American Women Photographers and Native North Americans, 1880-1940

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Rutgers University Press, 2003 - History - 243 pages
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The story of westering Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has been told most notably through photographs of American Indians. Unlike this vast archive, produced primarily by male photographers, which depicted American Indians as either vanishing or domesticated, the lesser-known images by the women featured in Trading Gazes provide new ways of seeing the intersecting histories of colonial expansion and indigenous resistance. Four unconventional women-Jane Gay, who documented land allotment to the Nez Perces; Kate Cory, an artist who lived for years in a Hopi community; Grace Nicholson, who purchased cultural items from the Karuk and other northern California tribes; and Mary Schaffer, who traveled among the Stoney and Metis of Alberta, Canada-used cameras to document their cross-cultural encounters.

Trading Gazes reconstructs the rich biographical and historical contexts explaining these women's presence in different Native communities of the North American West. Their photographs not only record the unprecedented opportunities available for Euro-American women eager to shed gender restrictions, but also reveal how women's newfound mobility depended on the increasing restrictions placed on Native Americans in this era. By tracing the complex, often unexpected relationships forged between these women, their cameras, and the Native subjects of their photographs, Trading Gazes offers a new focus for recovering women's histories in the West while bringing attention to the complicated legacies of these images for Native and non-Native viewers.


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About the author (2003)

Susan Bernardin is an assistant professor of Native American and American Literature at SUNY-Oneonta. Melody Graulich is a professor of English/American studies at Utah State University and the editor of Western American Literature. Lisa MacFarlane is an associate professor of English and coordinator of American studies at the University of New Hampshire. Nicole Tonkovich is an associate professor of literature at the University of California, San Diego.

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