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Images of Native Americans exhibited at Mathers Museum

Wanamaker Collection

Captain Jim, an important Pawnee chief, 1913. Courtesy of the Wanamaker Collection.

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One of Indiana University's most important artistic, cultural and historical treasures is currently on exhibit in Images of Native Americans: The Wanamaker Collection at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

This renowned collection features over 8,000 images taken between 1908 and 1923 and is recognized as the largest and one of the most important collections of photographs of Native Americans by a single photographic enterprise in the United States.

The exhibit chronicles the history of the collection, the range and variation of images, and the uses and study of the collection, which had its start in 1908 when photographer Joseph K. Dixon set out on his first trip to the American West to record images of Native Americans. Dixon, funded by John and Rodman Wanamaker of the Wanamaker Department Stores, spent the next 15 years in a series of "expeditions" taking photographs and amassing documentation. The images in the Wanamaker Collection depict Dixon's changing perceptions of Native Americans and his appreciation of the diversity of Indian cultures and the dignity of individual people.

Judith Kirk, assistant director of the Mathers Museum and curator of the exhibition, expresses gratitude to those who helped expand access to the exhibition through technology.

"We were approached by Professor Eli Blevis of the School of Informatics who asked us to participate in a service-learning opportunity for his class I56/Human-Computer Interaction Design II," Kirk says. "Three students -- Adam Shahrani, Kenton Hankins and Selvan Thandapani -- created an on-line, searchable database of 1,000 images from the Wanamaker Collection." The database is available for searching at

Wanamaker Collection

Dodge Sisters, daughters of Henry Chee Dodge, who later become the first Tribal Chairman of the Navaho, c. 1913. Courtesy of the Wanamaker Collection.

Print-Quality Photo

In addition to the exhibit at the Mathers Museum, a small sampling of the images will be traveling throughout the state to 20 locations, including Sullivan, Hartford City, Birdseye, Batesville, Petersburg, Lynn, Linton, Salem, Attica, Marshall, Osgood, Shelbyville, Avilla and Marion. The venues were chosen to ensure that residents of Indiana's smaller communities would have an opportunity to view the materials, which will be featured in libraries, schools and community centers, and will free and open to the public. The traveling exhibit is sponsored by the Moveable Feast of the Arts Program at Indiana University Bloomington funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc.

The traveling exhibit will be travel throughout the state beginning June 19, 2007, through June 24, 2008. The exhibit at the Mathers Museum will be on display through June 8, 2008.

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures is located at 416 N. Indiana Ave., Bloomington. Its exhibit hall and Museum Store are open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Admission to the Museum is free.

For more information, or to schedule a guided group tour, please call 812-855-6873 or e-mail