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Camera Ojibwe: Photos of Ojibwe Life

C.R. Beaulieu with Camera

C.R. Beaulieu with Camera
White Earth, Minn., c. 1915
Robert G. Beaulieu, photographer
Location no. N2.1 r20

Field Camera

Field camera 1901
Conley Camera Company
Rochester, MN

The Ojibwe people of Minnesota were among the earliest subjects during the introduction of photography in the mid-19th century. Images of leaders wearing headdresses and holding pipes, birch-bark canoes, wild ricing and maple sugaring became postcards, stereographs and carte de visites sold to white consumers. Today, these photographs are clues to impressive stories of survival and endurance by Indian people and in some cases preserve significant cultural information. They also record stereotypes, as photographers used costumes and props to shape the popular image of American Indians.

From May 19 to Aug. 12, 2007, the Minnesota Historical Society presents “Camera Ojibwe: Photos of Ojibwe Life” an exhibit of photographs and artifacts on display at the Minnesota History Center. The exhibit opens as the Minnesota Historical Society Press publishes “We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People,” a new book by historian Bruce White.

The exhibit and book feature many of the same photographs of everyday Ojibwe life and studio portraits taken during the first 100 years of photographic history. The exhibit will follow the structure of the book, with each section displaying selected photographs in addition to items from the Society’s artifact collections.

Among the many artifacts on view will be beaded bags, baskets, photographic tools and equipment, clothing, and household and harvesting material. Some of the items are of the type used by the photographers as props; some are the actual artifact depicted in a particular photograph in the book. All are examples of the recorded lives, material culture, stereotypes and relationships that Bruce White helps readers to see in the photographs.

Learn More:

We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People

“Camera Ojibwe: Photos of Ojibwe Life”

More photographs from the exhibit and book

Mille Lacs Indian Museum

Ayer Ojibwa Collection

Other related books and products