The Seattle Public Library's Living Cultures exhibit will expand on Friday, Feb. 23 to include images from photographer Edward S. Curtis' "The North American Indian," his monumental work to record the culture of Native Americans whose numbers were in serious decline, paired with images from photographer Sharon Eva Grainger. The exhibit will be located at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 8, 206-386-4636.

This year, during the 150th anniversary of Curtis' birth, The Seattle Public Library and several dozen local organizations have planned events and exhibits around Native Americans and First Nations People and Curtis' work. This regional effort is called Beyond the Frame: To Be Native.

The Library's exhibits and programs explore the history, intent and legacy of Curtis and the Native cultures he photographed. A Native American Advisory Committee was engaged to help guide this project.


Living Cultures Part I: Celebrating the Resilient Indigenous Cultures of the Pacific Northwest
On display now through Monday, April 30 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 3, The Norcliffe Foundation Living Room, 206-386-4636.

In this Library exhibit, four nations in Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state have collaborated with Grainger. On display are 24 photographs of Pacific Northwest Native and First Nations cultures taken over the last 20 years.


Four prominent Native American and First Nations leaders provided interpretation for the images in this exhibit:

  • Tlingit Nation - Jim Thomas, elder, traditional chief and statesman
  • Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw Nation - Barbara Cranmer, entrepreneur and 'Namgis filmmaker
  • Lummi Nation - Shirley Williams, nurse, educator and community leader
  • Haida Nation - Elsie Gaele Il'skide, traditional Haida wool weaver entrepreneur with a specialty in cultural tourism

This project would not have been possible without the support of the Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw, Haida, Tlingit and Lummi Nations. Their participation in the making of images, sharing their stories, opening their homes and including outsiders in their most sacred of cultural traditions has been at the heart of this mission.


Living Cultures Part II: Beyond the Frame
On display Friday, Feb. 23 through Monday, April 30 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 8, 206-386-4636.

This exhibit features Curtis' early 20th-century photogravures, a type of photograph etched onto a copper plate for printing in a book, and sets these alongside new images by Grainger. These images span 100 years and provide two very distinct points of view.

The Curtis images are his attempt to document, preserve, and memorialize what he thought was a vanishing race because of drastic governmental policies.  He wanted his viewers to see Native Americans as he thought they had lived for centuries. 

The Grainger photographs bring us into a vibrant and robust Native American world filled with traditional culture in contemporary times.

Sharon Grainger, Photographer
Grainger will talk about her work among Native Americans and First Nations tribes, and discuss her work as a portrait photographer.

  • 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium, 206-386-4636.

Jim Thomas, Tlingit chief and statesman
Hear about current issues from Jim Thomas, Raven Chief kHatsati (Chief) - G'Neix Kwaan, Kwashgi Kwaan (Owl House); grandson and son of grandmother Tié Aan and mother Nux Shuh Gheit (wives of chiefs); grandson and son of Chiefs Kardeetoo and Shwoo(tl) Kaan of the Brown Bear clan.

  • 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 4 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium, 206-386-4636.

Library events and exhibits are free and everyone is welcome. Tickets and reservations are not required to visit the exhibit.

These exhibits are supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and Gary Kunis. We would also like to thank the people of the Tlingit, Haida, Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw and Lummi Nations for their generous support and participation.