Type of Culminating Activity
Graduate Student Project
Master of Applied Historical Research
Dr. David Walker
Much of Indigenous peoples’ experience in America has been shaped by white settler colonialism, politics, and imperialism. The master narration and representation for the Indigenous past predominantly have been created by white men (European colonists, historians, and creators of pop culture), resulting in a myth of a vanishing race, the belief of many non-Indigenous people’s that Indigenous cultures, customs, and heritage were vanishing or have disappeared. Specifically, the Edward S. Curtis photograph titled “The Vanishing Race—Navaho,” ca. 1904 continues to be a significant propagator of misconceptions of a vanishing race or a long-forgotten people, even as those cultures, customs, and heritage were alive then as well as today. These misconceptions have caused lasting harm to Indigenous communities by persistently misrepresenting their history through western pedagogical methods and content. Any remediation process must apply Indigenous methodologies to the analysis of historic Indigenous photographs to decolonize Indigenous American history. This project’s methodologies blend Indigenous epistemology with evidence-based and emerging pedagogies to acknowledge what many Indigenous scholars ask of western academia: to be mindful of Indigenous world views and incorporate their theories into scholarly practice, and to responsibly adapt their methods for academia. Using this remediation process, this project expands the pedagogical approach to teaching Indigenous American history by showing high school students and instructors how to identify and fill the missing spaces or lacunae from the past. To remediate American history’s long-silenced voices, this project uses perspectives of Indigenous scholars, authors, and the Seattle Art Museum to create the six-part lesson plan The Myth of the Vanishing Race: Interpreting Historical Photographs of Native Americans.
Albritton, Thomas P., "The Myth of the Vanishing Race: Interpreting Historical Photographs of Native Americans" (2021). History Graduate Projects and Theses. 13.