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The Ute Indian Tribe
Gelatin silver print
21 x 29 1/2 ins (53.3 x 74.9 cm)
Swann Galleries - New York
Important Photobooks & Photographs, May 19, 2011, Sale 2248 Lot: 149
Lot notes from Swann Auction Galleries.
H. H. (Harry Heye) Tammen was one of the largest publishers of postcards in Colorado. He acquired imagery from various photographers, particularly William Henry Jackson, and produced stereoviews, full-size photographic prints, photo albums, silver souvenir spoons and publications about the West, alongside botanical specimens, fossil fish, polished agates, relics, taxidermy and Pueblo Indian pottery, all of which were sold through his stores around Denver. Ever the consummate businessman, in 1895 Tammen became the co-owner and co-editor of the Denver Post and in 1917, when Buffalo Bill Cody died in Denver, Tammen offered Cody's widow $10,000 for the privilege of burying him there, resulting in a funeral procession of over 50,000 people.
This handsome photograph of the Ute Indian tribe was in all likelihood produced by another photographer of the period and subsequently printed by Tammen. Residing primarily in Colorado and Utah, the tribe never existed as a unified body, instead consisting of various nomadic bands who kept in close communication with neighboring groups. Unlike many of the other tribes in the region, there exists no evidence or tradition of migration between what is now Colorado and Utah; ancestors of the Ute seem to have been residing in the area for about 1000 years. Jackson, while photographing on the U.S. Geological Survey expedition to Utah in 1877, noted that the "Utah," "Utas" or "Yutas" were brave and hardy. This oversize photograph represents a significant and important record of established tribal communities before and during a period of great conflict and assimilation, forever altering Native Americans' relationships with their land and country.
Another print of this image is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.