Poh-ah-be-one and Pony Hoof

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Portrait of Poh-ah-be-one and Pony Hoof, Thief River Falls, Minnesota.

This circa 1908 studio portrait of Poh-ah-be-one, an extremely elderly Red Lake Ojibwe man, and his young relative, Pony Hoof, shows the two handsomely dressed in traditional regalia over Western clothes – a practice that was commonplace among Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While Western literature written about Indian people of the time tells the story of a primitive race dressed head to toe in buckskins, the photographic record says something different: that Native Americans, consistently insisting on the expression of their traditional culture, negotiated the indigenous and Western worlds with grace.