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The beautiful pictures capturing tribal chiefs, medicine men and dancers roamed America's open plains.

Photos of Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, carefully painted to give the illusion of color - and now collected together by filmmaker Paul Ratner.

The director developed a fascination with the stunning images while working on short film Moses on the Mesa, telling the true tale of a Jewish man who came to fall in love with a Native American woman in the late 1800s.

At first, he only found monochrome images - but it was enough to pique his interest further.

'They were black and white photos of a beautiful mystical people, and it felt inconceivable that anyone would want to exterminate them from this continent as a conscious policy stretching over hundreds of years. It just seemed so barbaric and inhumane,' he wrote in a blog for Huffington Post.

It was then he started to discover the colorised images, which were created by artists carefully painting the photographs, bringing their subjects to life.


This picture of Arrowmaker, an Ojibwe man, was taken in 1903 and then 'colorised'

Eagle Arrow, a Siksika man who lived in Montana in the early 1900s. The colorisation process was an art in itself

A Northern Plains man on an overlook in Montana in the early 1900s. Artists had to carefully paint over the photograph

Pictures like this one of Charles American Horse, the son of Chief American Horse, were discovered by director Paul Ratner

Ratner believes the colour helped give him an insight into the lives of people like Strong Left Hand and his family, who lived in Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 1906 (pictured)

Bone Necklace, the Oglala Lakota Chief

Geronimo - pictured here in 1898

Pueblo man, photographed in 1899

Chief James A. Garfield, a Jicarilla Apache, in 1899.

Piegan men giving prayer to the Thunderbird near a river in Montana

Cheyenne Chief Wolf Robe

Members of the Kiowa tribe in 1898.

Chief Little Wound and family. Oglala Lakota. 1899. Photo by Heyn Photo. Source - Denver Public Library Digital Collections.


Responses to "Stunning colored images show Native Americans in the 19th century"

  1. David says:

    Beautiful...

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