That’s really what photographs are …

Richard Throssel was not only a contemporary of Curtis he was also a native: Cree to be exact, adopted by the Crow. His photograph of Bull Over the Hill’s home, titled “The Old and the New” which shows a log house with a tipi in the background, and his 1910 photograph “Interior of the best Indian Kitchen on the Crow Reservation” which shows an Indian family dressed in traditional clothing, sitting at an elegantly set table, in their very contemporary house, having tea, suggests that native people could negotiate the past and the present with relative ease. His untitled camp scene that juxtaposes traditional tipis with contemporary buggies and a family of pigs – rather than the unshod ponies and prerequisite herd of buffalo, suggests, at least to my contemporary sensibilities, that Throssel has a penchant for satiric play. But I’m probably imagining the humour, Throssel was, after all, a serious photographer trying to capture a moment, perhaps not realizing that tripping the shutter captures nothing; that everything on the ground glass changes before the light hits the film plane. What the camera allows you to do – is invent. To create. That’s really what photographs are: not records of moments, but rather, imaginative acts.

Thomas King
The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative (the 2003 Massey Lectures)

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