William Henry Jackson’s Ute Photographs

1874 painting of Ute camp near Los Pinos signed by William Henry Jackson

Photographer William Henry Jackson left camp near Denver on July 21, 1874, travelling with the Hayden Expedition. They arrived at Los Pinos Indian Agency on the Ute Reservation in Western Colorado in August.
          Agent Henry Bond and his wife warned Jackson that the Utes were superstitious about cameras. They suggested Ouray would be his best hope for a photo since he spoke English and was well acquainted with the ways of white people. Bond may also have been aware that Ouray had been photographed several times during trips to Washington, DC.
          According to Aylesa Farsee in William Henry Jackson: Pioneer Photographer of the West (Viking Press, 1964), “Jackson was delighted by the intelligent, alert questions Ouray put to him,” and Ouray agreed to pose for the camera. Jackson set up a temporary studio on the Agency porch using canvas and blankets for backdrops. Both Ouray and Chipeta sat for portaits.
         Then Jackson travelled to a temporary camp 3/4 of a mile away where a number of Utes had gathered to receive their annual government supplies the following day. Jackson set up his equipment but the Utes surrounded him, covered his camera with a blanket, and refused to be photographed. Perhaps that is when Jackson turned to paint and canvas.
         The painting is part of the William Henry Jackson Collection at Brigham Young University.



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