top of page
Descendants Project Logo

The Descendants Project is our effort to find, interview, and photograph living relatives of the Indigenous Peoples photographed by Edward S. Curtis. These men and women have powerful voices to be heard – messages of resistance, survival, and power. We amplify these stories in their voices, linking the past, present, and future.​

Edward S. Curtis photographed thousands of Native Peoples in the early 1900s while producing The North American Indian. As the grandson of Edward Sherriff Curtis, I, along with my wife Coleen, am continuing his work. The Descendants and the Curtis family share an amazing history, one of mutual respect, friendship, and storytelling. My family and I passionately value Native cultures and want to carry forward the family legacy.

John Graybill, President

Curtis Legacy Foundation

Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation Logo
LEONIAN Logo Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation

We are very grateful for the generous support of the Descendants Project by the Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation and the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.

Meet Some of The Descendants

Mona Polacca - Hopi-Tewa

Mona Polacca - Hopi-Tewa

Anna Nashoalook Elllis

Anna Nashoalook Ellis

Mary Lou Slaughter

Duwamish Nation


Peter VanDenBerg

Tim Reevis

Amskapi Pikuni of the Blackfeet Nation

Ken Workman - Duwamish

Chief Henry Red Cloud

Chief Henry Red Cloud - Oglala Sioux


Aaron Brien

6.5” x 8.5” view camera sepia tone

We are photographing these Descendants with 19th-century photographic equipment similar to what Curtis employed. Using a 6.5” x 8.5” view camera and dry plate glass negatives, we create a look and feel to our portraits similar to my grandfather's. The large format camera provides only one way to tell the Descendants’ stories, though, and, with each individual's permission, we create audio and video recordings to let their words speak for themselves.


Our images and recordings support their stories, bringing visual realities to their words and voices. What traditions do they practice? What are their thoughts and concerns for their People and their future? We listen to their stories and share them with others so that we all understand what it means to be Indigenous People in this land, in these times.

We will share their voices by publishing one or more books about the Descendants and by organizing exhibits at tribal centers, libraries, museums, and art galleries. Sign up for our email notices to learn when and where Descendants events will happen.

Your donation for this project will go to the Curtis Legacy Foundation.

bottom of page