top of page


Edward S. Curtis with Native scGoes Ahead, Hairy Moccasin, White Man Runs Him, Alexander Upshaw

The Board of Directors of the Curtis Legacy Foundation respectfully acknowledges the Ute people, the original inhabitants of Northwest Colorado, and other Indigenous Nations of this area where our office in Colorado is located. We recognize that the establishment of this region impacted the lifeways of Native Peoples and their communities. In accepting this, we are called to utilize our foundation to teach stewardship of the land and continuing commitment to the inclusion and respect of these Nations and their traditional values for their homelands.


Edward Curtis pictured with three scouts who were with George Armstrong Custer just before the massacre at the Battle of Little Big Horn. L to R: Goes Ahead, Hairy Moccasins, White Man Runs Him, Edward Curtis, guide Alexander Upshaw. 1906


We envision a nation that honors and respects all Native Americans.


We deepen understanding of Native American cultures by creating innovative learning opportunities, using the work of Edward Curtis as our platform.


Integrity: We believe in building trust with North American Native individuals and communities in everything we do by being transparent, honoring our word, and demonstrating the utmost respect.

Stewardship: We believe it is our responsibility to honor those North American Natives that came before, are among us now, and are yet to come by preserving the work of Edward Curtis.

Honor: Humanity is strengthened by valuing our differences and our similarities. When we honor diversity, a more equitable world unites in peace and understanding. Through integrity and collaboration, we wish to come to a place of honor with North American Natives.

Collaboration: Through our collective passion for storytelling, we wish to partner with North American Natives to amplify their voices by highlighting the past works of Edward Curtis and our current Descendant’s Project.

Compassion: We wish to create an environment of awareness that calls us to question and explore our implicit biases more deeply. We must strive to see the world through the eyes of North American Natives before we judge, act, or even pretend to understand. 


We preserve the history of Edward S. Curtis through research and publication about his life and by safeguarding important archives of his work.

  • We provide an unparalleled library of photographs, documents, family stories, and research archives about the life and work of Edward S. Curtis. 

  • Our Curtis Census project documents the locations and provenance of all known copies of The North American Indian.


We advance knowledge about the rich cultures of the Peoples and places he once saw.

  • Through the Descendants Project, we amplify the stories of the Peoples whom Curtis photographed and recorded at the start of the 20th century.

  • Through our Unpublished book series, we continue the stories and portrayals of the Native Peoples that Curtis began more than 100 years ago.

The Curtis Legacy Foundation is a registered nonprofit charity in the United States. Donations to the foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


My great-grandfather, Edward Sherriff Curtis, saw the policies of the US Government as detrimental to the Indigenous population of North America and was driven to document all he could before it was gone. His dream to “make them live forever” slipped into oblivion after the Great Depression and the general public lost interest in the Native Peoples of this land. Fortunately, his work has gained much acclaim and recognition since the early 1970s after being rediscovered in the basement of a Boston bookstore. At the same time, there has been some controversy surrounding his photographic achievements (although not the body of text contained in the twenty volumes of the North American Indian). It has been my dream to continue the work he started: assuring that his legacy is carried forward by amplifying the stories and photographing the descendants of his work. With this in mind, I created the Curtis Legacy Foundation™ in early 2019. With the help of my sisters and a dedicated group of volunteer board members, we are continuing the journey that my great-grandfather started more than a hundred years ago.

John Graybill

John Graybill



John is the youngest of only three great-grandchildren descending from Edward Curtis. John and his wife Coleen live in Buena Vista, Colorado in their perfect mountain cabin at 9000 feet. John got his photography degree at the Rhode Island School of Photography in 1979.


After a 29-year career managing Midas stores and 7 years as an Apple Genius, John retired from the corporate world. He now enjoys photographing alongside his wife, a 30-year veteran as a professional portrait and fine art photographer.


John has been the leader of Curtis' descendants in creating this new Foundation to carry on the legacy of their great-grandfather, Edward Sherriff Curtis. He feels it’s time for the family to step forward and spread the word of Curtis’ grand opus.

Liz Ross



Dr. Liz Ross is the retired Executive Director of the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center, and she currently works as a mentor/consultant for businesses. Liz also is a Professor for Columbia Southern University, an adjunct Associate Professor for the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Master’s program, and an instructor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management.


Liz also serves on the national board of the American Indigenous Business Leaders student organization and as an officer of the board for the Quota International of Fairbanks.  As a former CEO of an Alaska Native Corporation and Chairman of the board, she provides real-world experience on the pitfalls to avoid in business.


The daughter of Anna Grace Nashoalook and granddaughter of Joe O. and Ola Nashoalook of Unalakleet, Alaska. Liz embraces both her Inupiat culture and her Jewish culture, and she provides a unique perspective as a Descendant of Curtis’ work.

Janet Parcher



Janet Parcher, the “middle” great-grandchild of Edward S. Curtis, lives in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. She is a graduate of Washington State University, like her father James Graybill and her daughter Kristen. Go Cougs!


Janet spent many years working for the guide service on Mt. Rainier followed by just as many years as a paralegal. Retiring to her family ski cabin she enjoys skiing, hiking, golfing and gardening (where the local elk can’t get to the produce).


Growing up with Curtis photographs hanging on the walls of her family home and listening to stories told by her grandmother Florence of travels with “Father”, Janet is excited about the recent resurgence of Curtis’ work due to the 150th anniversary celebration of his birth. She is looking forward to working with her brother John and sister-in-law Coleen in furthering Curtis’ legacy and on the Descendants Project.

Tim Greyhavens



Tim Greyhavens is an independent photo historian, writer, and photographer based in Seattle. His work explores transitions in photography from the 19th to the mid-20th centuries. Currently, he is working on a history of photographers in Washington Territory/State from 1850 to 1900.


Tim also is the creator and Editor of the Curtis Census, an ongoing effort to identify and locate all known sets and volumes of The North American Indian

Tim has more the 35 years of nonprofit experience, including 25 years at the Executive Director of Wilburforce Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports and connects organizations and individuals that are committed to protecting wild places and the wildlife that depend on them.

Ann Bonin May 2021s2.jpg

Ann Bonin is the first great-grandchild of Edward Curtis and lives in Massachusetts close to her two grown children and five grandchildren. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Science degree.


Now retired, Ann has had experience in commercial and residential real estate, operating a small business in the Hospitality industry and being on a Board of Governors for her local country club.


Ann enjoys researching and learning about the life and accomplishments of her great-grandfather and being involved with conservation, protection and the legacy of his work.



Coleen Graybill manages special projects for the Curtis Legacy Foundation. She coordinates the Descendants Project, publishes books from the unpublished Curtis work and helps with the day-to-day operations. She also gives presentations alongside her husband John, making them a dynamic team. 

Coleen is a Master Photographer and Certified Professional Photographer through the Professional Photographers of America and has won top international awards for both her portrait and landscape work. She also has a Bachelor of Arts from Central Michigan University and an associate’s degree from Colorado Technical University. 

 She is excited to apply her talents to the foundation and to the Descendants Project, bringing attention to the amazing stories of Native Americans.


Tamara Stanads and Looks Back-Spotted Tail



Tamara Stands and Looks Back- Spotted Tail a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, also known as the Sicangu Oyate (Burnt Thigh Nation). The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is derived from the Oceti Sakowin: Teton (Ti Sakowin) Seven Council Fires, which speak the Lakota dialect.

Tamara is a great-granddaughter of Chief Stands and Looks Back and Mary Spotted Horse, Chief Stands and Looks Back parents were Chief Dog Walks in Lead, one of his sixth wives was Ista To Wiyan (woman with blue Eyes) mother to Stands and Looks Back, and sister to Chief Red Cloud.

Mary Spotted Horse's parents were Chief Crow Eagle and mother, Good Wing. Chief Stands and Looks Back and his wife settled in the 1890 allotment period in the Butte Creek Community known as Wood, South Dakota.

Tamara is a renowned Native American, and small business owner of Lakota Women Business, LLC.  She holds a Bachelor’s in Lakota History, Culture, Language, and Tribal Government from Sinte Gleska (Spotted Tail) University, South Dakota.

Denise Wartes photo by JR Ancheta 2018 curtis (by JR Anchetta) copy_edited.jpg



Denise Wartes holds a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural Studies and a Bachelor of Art in Alaska Native Studies and Business Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks


Denise is now retired from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she has worked with the Rural Alaska Honors Institute (RAHI) for over 30 years.


Denise lived on the Colville River Delta on the edge of the Arctic Ocean for eight years, approximately 40 miles west of Prudhoe Bay, or 180 miles east of Barrow.  During that time, she and her family lived a subsistence lifestyle, traveling the Arctic coast.  They now live in Fairbanks where Denise retired as the program manager emerita of the Rural Alaska Honors Institute (RAHI) - a six-week summer, college preparatory program for Alaska Native and rural high school juniors and seniors.  


Denise and her husband Mark have two adult children and five grandchildren, all of whom live in Fairbanks.


She is excited to be working with the Curtis Legacy Foundation and looks forward to applying her talents to the Foundation and Descendants Project.

bottom of page