Edward Sheriff Curtis photographed all of the major Native American Tribes, west of the Mississippi, with several grants from J.P. Morgan, beginning in the late 1880's through the Great Depression and sponsored by President, Theodore Roosevelt. His goal was to document "The Vanishing Race" as they were prior to the many developments, which cost Native Americans their precious homelands.
Curtis photographs included many historical figures, including Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and Custer's Scouts and famous places, such as The Canon De Chelly, The Columbia River, Alaska, and Crater Lake, before all became National Parks. His documentation of Custer's Last Stand is authoritative. many of his photographic images have reached the status of iconic, including Mosa, The Vanishing Race, Oasis in the Badlands, The Kutenai Duck Hunter, and Waiting in the Forest
The North American Indian consisted of 20 volumes of photogravures and text, documenting Native American customs, including interviews with many Native Americans who describe in their own words the heritage of their tribes. Each volume was accompanied by a portfolio of large Photogravures, relating to the tribes depicted in the volumes. There are 1510 volume size and 722 portfolio size photogravure plates in the entire collection.