Onondaga: Portrait of a Native People


Author:
Fred Ryther Wolcott
Grade Levels:
Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, College, University
Nation:
Iroquois, Onondaga, Woodland
Book Type:
Paperback
Pages:
110
Publisher:
Syracuse University Press

Price:
Sale price$30.00

Description

Onondaga: Portrait of a Native People is the catalogue of a photography exhibition that premiered in September 1984 at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York. Curated by Ray Gonyea, this show featured a collection of 71 black and white images taken by commercial photographer Fred Wolcott between the years 1902 and 1917. This Syracuse photographer's glass plate negatives are in the collection of the Office of Museums and Historic Sites and some of the finer portraits were selected for this publication. The book begins with a Foreword by historian Laurence Hauptman. He explains the historical context of these photographs by describing Iroquois political history. He cautions readers that the study of historical photographs may lead to incorrect conclusions. The overall conclusion for these selected images is one of value because they reveal an important part of Iroquois and Onondaga history. During the period between the US Civil War and World War l, the Six Nations Iroquois in New York including the Onondaga were under extreme pressure to acculturate. These images serve to show how the Onondaga succumbed but more importantly how the Onondaga maintained their core cultural values. To assist the reader and viewer, the images are organized by theme. The first section features individual and family portraits. Most images have detailed information about each person. The next section shows the changing housing situation for the Onondaga. There are few log cabins and several frame houses shown. The third section offers a few images that were staged and posed by the photographer to show the stereotyped image of the Native American Indian who wears a feather headdress in the Plains style. The next section covers the sports that Onondaga community members enjoyed during this period. The final section celebrates the core traditional values that the Onondaga community maintained. Here we find photographs of wampum belts, a Condolence ceremony, lacrosse stick maker, bead workers, the memorial stone to Handsome Lake, the Onondaga Council House, traditional agricultural fields of corn, beans, and squash, and pounding corn with a mortar and pestle. The book contains a map and index. Overall this is a valuable research tool for anyone interested in Iroquois history and photography.

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