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The first ever unromanticized photos of Native Americans that weren’t staged

These remarkable 19th century sepia-tinted pictures show the American West as you have never seen it before – as it was charted for the first time.

The photos, by Timothy O’Sullivan, are the first ever taken of the rocky and barren landscape.

At the time federal government officials were travelling across Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the rest of the west as they sought to uncover the land’s untapped natural resources.

Timothy O’Sullivan, who used a box camera, worked with the Government teams as they explored the land. He had earlier covered the U.S. Civil War and was one of the most famous photographers of the 19th century.

He also took pictures of the Native American population for the first time as a team of artists, photographers, scientists and soldiers explored the land in the 1860s and 1870s.

The images of the landscape were remarkable – because the majority of people at the time would not have known they were there or have ever had a chance to see it for themselves.

Native Americans: The Paiute Indian group from 1872.

Considered one of the forerunners to Ansel Adams, Timothy O’Sullivan is a hero to other photographers according to the Tucson Weekly.

‘Most of the photographers sent to document the West’s native peoples and its geologic formations tried to make this strange new land accessible, even picturesque,’ said Keith McElroy a history of photography professor in Tucson.

 Native: Maiman, a Mojave Indian, guide and interpreter during a portion of the season in the Colorado country, in 1871.

 

 Indigenous life among the Navajo Indians. Near old Fort Defiance, New Mexico, in 1873.

 

 Native American (Paiute) men, women and children near a tree.

 

Shoshone Falls, Idaho near present-day Twin Falls, Idaho, is 212 feet high, and flows over a rim 1,000 feet wide. 

 

 Incredible: Tents can be seen (bottom, centre) at a point known as Camp Beauty close to canyon walls in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona.

 

 Land rising from the water: The Pyramid and Domes, a line of dome-shaped tufa rocks in Pyramid Lake, Nevada photographed in 1867.

 

 Breathtaking: Twin buttes stand near Green River City, Wyoming, photographed in 1872 four years after settlers made the river basin their home.

 

 Landscape: Browns Park, Colorado

 

 Native Americans: Boat crew of the ‘Picture’ at Diamond Creek.

 

Two men sit looking at headlands north of the Colorado River Plateau in 1872.
 View on Apache Lake, Sierra Blanca Range, Arizona, with Two Apache Scouts in the Foreground 1873
 
One of the pioneer photographers of Southwestern Indians, Timothy H. O’Sullivan traveled with Lt. George M. Wheeler’s survey west of the 100th Meridian during 1871-74. After some boats capsized, few of his 300 negatives survived the trip back East. This one, of “Apaches Indians, as they appear ready for the war-path,” 

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