Each of these incredibly rare and beautiful Native American portraits are of women and girls between the last 1800s and the early 1900s. The images have been well preserved and it gives us a tiny window into the past where we can admire these women, their unique style, and show respect for their lives.
Although Native American women often had different roles than the men they were greatly respected. They often had the same sorts of rights at the men in their tribe which is incredible for the time period.
In some groups, women were the ones who owned the home and property inside. While it was typical for a chief to be male there were some tribes that would have the women select who he would be.
“A lot of people think that us women are not leaders, but we are the heart of the nation, we are the center of our home, and it is us who decide how it will be.”–Philomine Lakota, Lakota language teacher
1. Marcia Pascal, Half-cherokee, Daughter Of U.s. Army Officer George W. Paschal, 1880s
2. O-o-be, The Kiowas, 1894
“Through the late 1700s, Cherokee women were civically engaged. They owned land and had a say during wartime,” writes Astrid Munn in Native Daughters.
3. Native American Girl, 1870-1900
“Treat every woman from the tiniest child to the oldest one with respect at all times. Always treat a woman with honor and consideration.” -Native American Saying
4. Gertrude Three Finger, Cheyenne, 1869-1904, By William E. Irwin
5. Native American Girl In Traditional Dress
“The Old Ones say the Native American women will lead the healing among the tribes. Inside them are the powers of love and strength given by the Moon and the Earth. When everyone else gives up, it is the women who sings the songs of strength. She is the backbone of the people. So, to our women we say, sing your songs of strength; pray for your special powers; keep our people strong; be respectful, gentle, and modest.” -Village Wise Man, Lakota
6. Hattie Tom, Apache, 1899, By Frank A. Rinehart
7. Elsie Vance Chestuen, Chiricahua
8. Unidentified Native American Girl, Lakota, 1890
“The honor of the people lies in the moccasin tracks of the woman.” -Native American Saying
9. Cherokee Nanyehi, Lakota
10. A Young Ute Woman, 1880-1900