History is no doubt fascinating, but sometimes it just feels so faraway and removed, it’s hard to have a deeper reaction to learning about it.
And that’s especially true when a culture or a way of life has been so drastically changed that today, many of us can’t even imagine what life was like.
That’s one of the reasons why filmmaker Paul Ratner was so fascinated to find a collection of color and colorized photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s, all showing various Native American people from across the continent.
Some were black-and-white photos that have been carefully painted over, and some were made using Kodachrome, the earliest color-film-processing technology.
Even in black-and-white, the images of Native American people are stunning, as we’ve seen with the photography of Edward Curtis. But in color, it’s really like looking right back into history.
The photos below show people from a variety of Native American cultures across what is now the United States. Their heritage can be seen in their dress, but at the time these photos were taken, their ways of life were being actively oppressed, and, sadly, many of these traditions have been lost to time.
Luckily, we can still look back at these images and celebrate this incredible history.