ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
The Curtis Legacy Foundation acknowledges that our office is on the traditional land of the Ute People, who have been in the Arkansas Valley for centuries. We give thanks for their wise stewardship of the land and the waters so that we may live here today.
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 the public’s understanding of Native Americans by providing 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.
WHAT WE DO
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Through our new book, Edward S. Curtis: Unpublished Alaska, we continue the stories and portrayals of Alaska Natives that Curtis began more than 100 years ago.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.
HISTORY OF THE FOUNDATION
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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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.
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 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 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.
DR. 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.
DR. SHAWN POHLMAN
Dr. Shawn Pohlman is a registered nurse who has worn many hats over her 40 year career: neonatal intensive care clinical nurse specialist, professor, qualitative researcher, and published author. As a doctoral student, Shawn studied interpretive phenomenology, a qualitative research method aimed at understanding the meaningful worlds of human beings through in-depth interviewing. To fund her dissertation on fathers of premature infants, she was awarded two grants, including one to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Shawn has a passion for art, which first began as a young girl drawing pictures of birds portrayed on a coveted collection of greeting cards. As a young woman, she vividly recalls her first exposure to the work of Edward S. Curtis as she stood gazing at his photographs hanging on the walls of the Graybill family home. She was immediately drawn to those Native American portraits then, and now. Today, Shawn’s artistic passions include a love of gardens, birdwatching, art museums, and all that nature has to offer, great and small.
Profile coming soon.