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Course & Subject Guides

Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, Spring-Summer 2018: Watching the Dancers

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

Watching the Dancers banner

Watching the Dancers

Photogravure of Watching the Dancers

Watching the Dancers, 1906

A group of girls on the topmost roof of Walpi, looking down into the plaza. 

Print Caption by Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Portfolio XII, Plate no. 405, 1922. 


Squash-Blossoms of Walpi

…Females part their hair in the middle from the forehead to the nape of the neck.  Unmarried girls arrange it in a large whorl above each ear, a very distinctive style symbolic of the squash-blossom. …The picturesque whorl fashion is so fast disappearing, at least at Walpi, that in three months’ observation in the winter of 1911-1912 only one girl was seen with hair so dressed except on ceremonial occasions.  To arrange the whorls is too laborious a task for women with a school education.

Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Text XII, 25, 1922.

Curtis device


…While the Antelopes sing and shake their rattles, the Snake men in trios begin an extremely thrilling dance around the plaza.  As each group arrives at the kísi, the dancer receives a snake, which he holds in his two hands and from time to time places about his neck or between his lips.  The “hugger” dances close behind him with his left arm about the dancer’s neck, and with his eagle-feather “whip” he constantly makes stroking motions over the reptile as if to pacify it…

Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Text XII, 153, 1922.

Curtis device

Banner of photos of Walpi peoples