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Fascinating portraits of First Nation People of Alberta from 1910

Neil Patrick

Canadian photographer, Harry Pollard spent time photographing the people who made up the First Nations in Alberta, Canada in 1910.

The First Nations are recognized as the Aboriginal people of Canada; this excludes the Metis and Inuit, who are separate from this group distinction.

Jim Rabbit, Kainai Nation Photo Credit

Jim Rabbit, Kainai Nation Photo Credit

Betty Hunter, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Betty Hunter, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Big Belly, Tsuu T’ina Chief Photo Credit

Big Belly, Tsuu T’ina Chief Photo Credit

Martin Breaker, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Martin Breaker, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Wide Face Chief of Piikani Nation Photo Credit

Wide Face Chief of Piikani Nation Photo Credit

Portrait of Black Feather Photo Credit

Portrait of Black Feather Photo Credit

Mrs. Thomas of Tsuu T’ina Nation Photo Credit

Mrs. Thomas of Tsuu T’ina Nation Photo Credit

Black Plume, Kainai Nation Photo Credit

Black Plume, Kainai Nation Photo Credit

In particular, one can see the way of life that these people lived through Pollard’s still life photography from his time spent in the Assiniboine camp.  Many of the photographs are single portraits of various adults from the Nakoda Nation, Siksika Nation, and Kainai Nation, as well as many others.

The still-life pictures show the majesty of spirit in these people, as well as the great talent of the photographer when capturing the essence of his subjects.

Kainai women and dog travois Photo Credit

Kainai women and dog travois Photo Credit

Peter Wesley, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Peter Wesley, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Harry Pollard   Photo Credit

Harry Pollard   Photo Credit

Lone Walking Buffalo, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

Lone Walking Buffalo, Nakoda Nation Photo Credit

A 2001 Canadian census reported that nearly 85,000 Albertans considered themselves to be “North American Indians,” and by 2011 this has risen to nearly 117,000, or 13% of the total First Nation people in Canada.

This fact gave Alberta the status of having the third largest First Nation population of all the provinces. Half of the population is registered as living on a reserve land, while the rest are off-reserve. Many of the First Nation people living off-reserve are urban dwellers, with a large proportion of them living in Edmonton, the provincial capital.  The population living off-reserve in Edmonton is approximately 18,000 people, according to the 2011 census; this is the second highest of any city in Canada.

White Buckskin, Kainai Nation Photo Credit

White Buckskin, Kainai Nation Photo Credit

Running Antelope, Tsuu T’ina shaman Photo Credit

Running Antelope, Tsuu T’ina shaman Photo Credit

There are also nearly 20,000 people in the 2011 census in Alberta who claim to have some North American identity but are not registered in the official Indian Register.

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In Alberta, there are 48 First Nation groups with a council and chief; these 48 groups belong to nine ethnic tribes, based on their ancestral languages.

These magnificent portraits  that you are about to see, were taken by the  Canadian photographer Harry Pollard, whose specialty was photographing First Nations.First Nations in Alberta are indigenous peoples who live in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Assiniboine camp

Assiniboine camp

 

Betty Hunter, Nakoda Nation

Betty Hunter, Nakoda Nation

 

Big Belly, Tsuu T'ina chief.

Big Belly, Tsuu T’ina chief.

 

Calf Robe

Calf Robe

 

Chief Duck

Chief Duck

The First Nations are those peoples (or nations) recognized as Aboriginal peoples in Canada excluding the Inuit and the Métis. According to the Canadian census, in 2001 a population of 84,990 Albertans reported a “North American Indian” (i.e. First Nations) identity, rising to 116,670 in 2011 or 13.7% of all First Nations people in Canada, giving Alberta the third largest First Nations population among the provinces and territories (after Ontario and BC). From this total around half of the population lives on an Indian reserve (58,782 Registered Indians lived on-reserve in Alberta in 2005).

Chief White Head, Nakoda chief.

Chief White Head, Nakoda chief.

 

Herbert Lawrence of Siksika Nation

Herbert Lawrence of Siksika Nation

 

Jim Rabbit, Kainai Nation

Jim Rabbit, Kainai Nation

 

Joe Big Plume of Tsuu T'ina Nation

Joe Big Plume of Tsuu T’ina Nation

 

Lone Walker

Lone Walker

 

Lone Walking Buffalo, Nakoda Nation

Lone Walking Buffalo, Nakoda Nation

 

Martin Breaker, Nakoda Nation

Martin Breaker, Nakoda Nation

 

Martin Horses of the Kainai Nation.

Martin Horses of the Kainai Nation.

 

Mrs. Thomas of Tsuu T'ina Nation.

Mrs. Thomas of Tsuu T’ina Nation.

 

Old Tom, Tsuu T'ina Nation

Old Tom, Tsuu T’ina Nation

 

Peter Wesley, Nakoda Nation

Peter Wesley, Nakoda Nation

 

Rabbit Carrier.

Rabbit Carrier.

 

Raw Eater of Siksika Nation

Raw Eater of Siksika Nation

 

Red Leggings

Red Leggings

 

Running Antelope, Tsuu T'ina shaman.

Running Antelope, Tsuu T’ina shaman.

 

Savage Hunting Eagle, Nakoda Nation

Savage Hunting Eagle, Nakoda Nation

 

Spring Chief

Spring Chief

 

Walking Buffalo of Nakoda Nation

Walking Buffalo of Nakoda Nation

 

Wide Face Chief of Piikani Nation

Wide Face Chief of Piikani Nation

 

Wolfe Caller of Siksika Nation

Wolfe Caller of Siksika Nation

 

Wolfe Robe

Wolfe Robe

 

Wolfe Teeth of Nakoda Nation.

Wolfe Teeth of Nakoda Nation.

The rest of the population lives off-reserve, amongst the rest of the Canadian population. Many of these are urban Aboriginals living in cities, especially Edmonton (the provincial capital) which had an off-reserve status population of 18,210 people in 2011, the second highest for any city in Canada (after Winnipeg). All photos by Harry Pollard/Provincial Archives of Alberta

Besides this there were 19,945 people in Alberta in 2011 who claimed a North American Indian identity on the census but are not part of the officialIndian Register; such people are commonly called “non-status Indians”. There are 48 First Nations or “bands” in Alberta (in the sense of governments made up of a council and a chief), belonging to nine different ethnic groups or “tribes” based on their ancestral languages.