Art, Art History and Design, School of


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Harris, Alicia L. "Many Worlds Converge Here: Vision and Identity in American Indian Photography." Master's thesis., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2013.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska in Partial fulfillment of Requirements for The Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Art History, Under the Supervision of Professor Wendy Katz. Lincoln, Nebraska, May, 2013.

Copyright 2013 Alicia Lynn Harris.


Photographs of Native Americans taken by Frank A. Rinehart at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in 1898 were then and continue to be part of the construction of indigenous identities, both by Anglo-Americans and Natives. This thesis analyzes the ramifications of Rinehart’s portraits and those of his peers as well as Native American artists in the 20th and 21st centuries who have sought to re-appropriate these images to make them empowering icons of individual or tribal identity rather than erasure of culture.

This thesis comprises two sections. In the first section, the analysis is focused on the historical functioning of the Rinehart photographs taken at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in 1898. The second section turns to a contemporary reading of the Rinehart images and other images like them. This includes an analysis of the author’s relationship with the photograph of an ancestor who was present at the Exhibition, as well as an examination of a piece by the performance artist, James Luna. The latter section relies heavily on Marianne Hirsch’s concept of postmemory, through which identity is formed by traumas inherited by succeeding generations, often through the vehicle of family portraits.

Adviser: Wendy Katz