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Course & Subject Guides

Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, Spring-Summer 2018: Kwakiutl House-Frame

This library guide is an overview of the Archives & Special Collection exhibit on Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian.


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Kwakiutl House-Frame

Photogravure of Kwakiutl House-Frame

Kwakiutl House-Frame, 1914

The two long beams in the middle are twin ridge-timbers, which are supported in the rear, as in the front, by a transverse beam resting on two uprights.  At the extreme right and left are the eaves-timbers.  The longitudinal and circular flutes of the columns are laboriously produced by means of a small hand-adze of primitive form.  This frame is at the village Memkumlis.

Print caption by Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Portfolio X, Plate no. 343, 1915.



…Ethnologically the natives of North America are usually placed in broad, and somewhat loose, cultural groups, one of which comprises the seafaring tribes of the North Pacific coast from the Columbia river to Eskimoan territory in Alaska…

Of all these coast-dwellers the Kwakiutl tribes were one of the most important groups…Their ceremonies are developed to a point which fully justifies the term dramatic.  They are rich in mythology and tradition.  Their sea-going canoes possess the most beautiful lines, and few tribes have built canoes approaching theirs in size.  Their houses are large, and skillfully constructed.  Their heraldic columns evidence considerable skill in carving, though not equaling those of the Haida and Tsimshian, from whom this phase of their art probably was borrowed.  In their development of ceremonial masks and costumes they are far in advance of any other group of North American Indians. 

Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Text X, xi, 1915.

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Banner of photos of Kwakiutl people