Rare Native American Photos

Several years ago a black metal box of 35mm color slides taken of the Navajo people of Monument Valley in the 1950s was discovered in the basement of a house in Prescott, AZ where it had sat unopened for more than 30 years.

Copies of these Navajo photos are archived at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

These beautiful and historically important Navajo photos are some of the first and finest color photos ever taken of the Navajo. They reflect the innocence and simplicity of Navajo life at a time of transition in Navajo history.

When these photographs of the Navajo people (the Dine') and the Navajo lifestyle were taken the Navajo people enjoyed being photographed. This was partly because of the role the Navajo played in the many movies made in Monument Valley. The Navajo were gracious hosts who openly shared Navajo customs and the friendly Navajo style with those who expressed a genuine interest in Navajo life.

Earl Waggoner was a friend of the Navajo. He was an award winning photographer, an anthropologist and an avid student of Navajo life who loved the Southwest and the Navajo. Like the prints of Edward S. Curtis and Josef Muench these historically important photographs of Navajo lifestyle were taken with the consent and permission of the people being photographed.

Because of his love of the Navajo, and their respect for him, Earl was invited to photograph Navajo ceremonies and other situations seldom photographed. His attention to detail, superior photographic technique, and artistic bent reveal not only a love of the Navajo but also an extraordinary sense of light and an ability to capture the spirit of the Navajo people. (more)

Brian Ahern, Publisher
Sedona, AZ 2005

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