Among Unknown Tribes

Among Unknown Tribes

Rediscovering the Photographs of Explorer Carl Lumholtz

Book - 2014
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University of Texas Press

Internationally renowned as an exciting guide to unknown peoples and places, Norwegian Carl Lumholtz was a Victorian-era explorer, anthropologist, natural scientist, writer, and photographer who worked in Australia, Mexico, and Borneo. His photographs of the Tarahumara, Huichol, Cora, Tepehuan, Southern Pima, and Tohono O'odham tribes of Mexico and southwest Arizona were among the very first taken of these cultures and still provide the best photographic record of them at the turn of the twentieth century. Lumholtz published his photographs in several books, including Unknown Mexico and New Trails in Mexico, but, because photographic publishing was then in its infancy, most of the images were poorly printed, badly cropped, or reworked by "illustrators" using crude techniques.

Among Unknown Tribes presents more than two hundred of Lumholtz's best photographs—many never before published—from the archives of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway. The images are newly scanned, most from the original negatives, and printed uncropped, disclosing a wealth of previously hidden detail. Each photograph is fully identified and often amplified by Lumholtz's own notes and captions. Accompanying the images are essays and photo notes that survey Lumholtz's career and legacy, as well as what his photographs reveal about the "unknown tribes." By giving Lumholtz's photographs the high-quality reproduction they deserve, Among Unknown Tribes honors not only the Norwegian explorer but also the native peoples who continue to struggle for recognition and justice as they actively engage in the traditional customs that Lumholtz recorded.

Book News
This comprehensive book documents the work of Carl Lumholtz, mostly in Mexico and the US Southwest, in the 19th century. He served as an explorer and collector of data and artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History. Norwegian by birth, he traveled around the world, learned a variety of languages, and became both a first-rate photographer and an early ethnographer. A variety of contributors here record both Lumholtz' achievements (part of his success was a result of a more just attitude toward native people than was usual for people in his role at the time), and the process of finding, preserving, and rediscovering his work and its relevance. The book is abundantly illustrated with Lumholtz's original black and white photographs, which include the only outside documentation of the lives of native people in many tribes before outside pressures forced them to abandon or severely modify their ways of life. Much work here centers on Huichol, Tumarahara, and Tono O'doham (Papago) people. The photographs also include many landscape and botanical images of the region before European settlement. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Austin : University of Texas Press, 2014
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780292754638
Branch Call Number: 305.8 Am67 2014
Characteristics: viii, 317 pages : illustrations ; 31 cm


From Library Staff

Selected by Christine Wald-Hopkins and Bruce Dinges as a 2014 Top Pick.

Selected by Christine Wald-Hopkins as a Southwest Books of the Year 2014 Top Pick.

Selected by Bruce Dinges as a Southwest Books of the Year 2014 Top Pick.

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