Joseph Dixon

Joseph K. Dixon was a photographer best known for his portraits of the Indigenous peoples of North America. Beginning in 1908, Dixon led three expeditions, sponsored by philanthropist and department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, to document the lives and cultures of Native peoples of the United States through photography, film, and sound recordings. These trips were inspired by Wanamaker and Dixon’s belief that Native Americans were fated to become a “noble, though vanishing race,” a popular notion used to justify the violent tides of westward expansion during the nineteenth century. As such, Dixon used tools such as celluloid overlays to create “sunset” effects around his subjects and often strategically staged scenes before capturing them. Despite these manipulations, Dixon’s eight thousand negatives provide an invaluable record of Indigenous life.

Source: National Museum of the American Indian