Esau Prescott strikes a pose for the lens of Charles van Schaik in this 1915 capture. Esau Prescott belonged to the Ho-Chunk tribe and is seen in this photo in full school uniform as he was forced to attend boarding school in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The federal policy of sending Native American children to boarding schools became rampant in the 19th century as it aimed at assimilating them into Euro-American culture.
Wisconsin alone had eleven schools dedicated to this, which disrupted their traditional way of life and had lasting impacts on their cultural identity and communities. Esau would have attended the Winnebago Indian Mission School, administered by the Reformed Church of the United States.
Yurok Man in Canoe
A Yurok man brings a canoe to shore in this 1923 photogravure. The Yurok traditionally occupied most of northern California. Their social hierarchy was unique as they sought no specific positions of power, and each family was intended to manage themselves and primarily see to their own needs.
Each household would claim a piece of resource-rich land and share it diplomatically with other community members. The value of life and the worth of individuals were determined by the wealth they had accumulated. Shamanism was practiced only by female members of the tribe, earning them great respect within the Yurok community.
Two women assist each other in plastering the front of a house in Laguna Pueblo. The area in which the Laguna Pueblo is situated has been inhabited for close to seven thousand years. Life at Laguna Pueblo revolves around a strong sense of community and the preservation of cultural traditions.
A famous mission was set up in Laguna Pueblo in 1699 and is regarded as one of the most well-preserved historic buildings on the North American continent. Interestingly, many Native Americans who lived in Laguna Pueblo adopted the very Irish surname of Riley. This was mainly in part to forced assimilation.
Register to Vote
Native Americans queued to vote for the first time after being granted voting rights in 1924. There is a long and convoluted history behind the status of enfranchisement and rights for Native Americans in colonial America which involved numerous obstacles and discriminatory practices in exercising their right, including literacy tests, poll taxes, and other forms of voter suppression.
The government at the time believed that no Native American could vote unless fully assimilated, but enfranchisement only came in the form of self-governance. This excluded self-governing Native Americans from federal policies and citizenship rights. The Snyder Act of 1924 overturned this archaic law and bestowed unimpeded voting rights to all Native Americans.
A couple shares a smile with a First Nation chieftain as he bestows matrimonial rights upon them in this 1929 photograph. First Nation weddings were a complicated affair, and the preparation for the wedding began long in advance.
As the couple intended to become wed, they had to choose respective counselors known as “sponsors.” The sponsors' commitment was to provide lifelong guidance to the couple as they navigate marriage. At the ceremony itself, the company made their vows to the Creator instead of to each other and would share a smoking pipe to conclude the marriage.