Curtis, Cheyenne, 1900
I devoted thirty-three years to gathering text material and pictures for The North American Indian. I did this as a contribution; without salary, direct or indirect financial returns. When I was done with the last volume, I did not possess enough money to buy a ham sandwich; yet the books will remain the outstanding story of the Indian.
The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other...consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time.
The thought which these pictures are meant to convey is that Indians as a race, already shorn of their tribal strength and stripped of their primitive dress, are passing into the darkness of an unknown future.
Edward Sheriff Curtis