The image many people hold of Native Americans today can be attributed largely to Edward Curtis, a late nineteenth-century, early twentieth-century American photographer whose work often focused on Native subjects. Oftentimes his work was staged, as Curtis believed that Natives and their cultures were being slowly eradicated. He was able to persuade his subjects to wear full regalia (regardless of whether it was from their own tribe) and to hide markers of cultural adaptation. Native Enough aims to dispel the stereotypical image of Natives so heavily influenced by Curtis. With interview excerpts included alongside the present-day portraits of Native college students, this collection allows for discussion about identity anxiety, tribal issues, moments of pride, and the change students want to effect through their education. The combination of black-and-white portraits and interview excerpts provides a poignant look at the faces of Native students, proving that stereotypes fall short in the faces of Native diversity.
“O’Leary’s portraits counter the stereotypical images of Native people that remain pervasive in American media and culture, providing a glimpse of the beautiful diversity that exists among Native students today. The students share raw statements about their identity during a critical time of identity formation revealing the complexities of their lived experiences.”
—JILL DOERFLER, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and author of Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg