"Chippewa Braves"

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Theodore Beaulieu and Nay-ban-ash-Kunk, Chippewa braves, White Earth, Minnesota.

Posed photographs of Native Americans for postcards were a kind of cottage industry for American photographers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This circa 1910 image of Theodore Beaulieu and Nay-ban-ash-kunk, two Ojibwe men from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, attempts to highlight Western fear of the Indian by showing the men in full Native dress in front of tipis, having Mr. Beaulieu grasp a tomahawk, and reducing the men to nameless “Chippewa Braves” in the label.

While the photo insists on referring to the men using terms reserved for warriors, they are in fact dressed for the social dances that take place in summer every year known today as pow-wow. Photos like these were disseminated widely throughout the United States to a White audience, and buttressed the inability of Whites to see Natives in Native dress as anything other than inherently aggressive.