M.K. Keegan, |
Enduring Culture: A Century of Photography of the Southwest Indians
(Clear Light, 1990)
Enduring Culture: A Century of Photography of the Southwest Indians is a collection of photographs from the turn-of-the-century period juxtaposed beside modern photographs by M.K. Keegan. The photographs focus on the traditional lifestyle of the Southwest Indians, primarily the 19 pueblos in New Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona.
Keegan's introduction explains how she decided to document every tribe photographically because natives were thought to be a disappearing culture. She focused on the Southwest tribes. When she began looking through old photographs, she was shocked to discover that many of hers, which were taken in the 1960s to the 1980s, were almost identical to those taken at the turn of the century. She compiled this collection of 88 photographs.
Keegan discusses modern culture and population figures, explains why these peoples managed to retain their traditional lifestyles while others lost theirs, and details the natives' reluctance to be photographed.
Biographies of the frontier photographers follow the last photograph. "Plate Information" ends the book. In this section, Keegan offers insights about the individuals and activities in the photographs. She explains the cultural significance and sometimes goes into details about the traditions, history, environment and encounters with explorers.
These are breathtaking, stunning, exhilarating photographs. They take you inside a world that is seldom seen. Some of the ceremonies are now closed to photography again and the photographs of them included in this volume may be the last. This book is destined to become a classic in the photography field.
Keegan has spent 25 years documenting the traditional Southwest Indians: their lifestyles, environment and ceremonies. Her work is included in collections at the Library of Congress, the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Kansas City Museum. She has had shows at the Lincoln Center Museum of Performing Arts, the Overseas Press Club, the Witkin Gallery in New York, the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe and the Philbrock Museum of Tulsa. Her books include Moonsong Lullaby, The Pueblo Boy and Southwest Indian Cookbook.
N. Scott Momaday is a Kiowa writer, teacher at the University of Arizona and artist. He was the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize, which he won in fiction for House Made of Dawn. He exhibits his artwork in galleries in America and Europe.
Enduring Culture is a powerfully moving photographic testament of how an indigenous culture can endure when they are not forcibly removed ... or victims of genocide or stifled religious practices. This is a wonderful coffee table edition that any person with an interest in Native Americans or the Southwest should be delighted to own.
book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins
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