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Visual & Media Cultures Colloquium - Amy Lonetree

Studio Portraits and Tourist Images: Writing a History of the Ho-Chunk Nation Through the Visual Archive, 1879-1960
Amy Lonetree
Wed Apr 21, 2021, 4:00pm to 6:00pm
online event
Presented by: 
Arts Division
Film & Digital Media
History of Art & Visual Culture



This presentation focuses on the challenging, complicated, and inspiring process of writing a history with and for my own community, the Ho-Chunk Nation. The project examines the intersections of photographic images, family history, tourism, and Ho-Chunk survivance through an examination of two extraordinary photographic collections housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society:  the Charles Van Schaick Collection and the Henry Hamilton (H.H.) Bennett Collection. Both collections include visual materials that document, represent, and convey a deep history of Ho-Chunk resilience and survival, along with the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism. My talk will address the importance of employing decolonizing methodological strategies when analyzing these sources. Particular attention is given to privileging the perspectives of the Indigenous people captured in the frame and the ongoing meaning that this visual archive has to our understanding of Ho-Chunk identity, issues of representation, modern labor, and survivance. I will also consider the diversity of Indigenous peoples’ affective responses to these historic images through an analysis of my own engagement with family images in the visual archive.

Amy Lonetree is an enrolled citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation and an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarly research focuses on Indigenous history, visual culture studies, and museum studies, and she has received fellowships in support of this work from the School for Advanced Research, the Newberry Library, the Bard Graduate Center, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center, the Institute of American Cultures at UCLA, and the University of California, Berkeley Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Her publications include, Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums (University of North Carolina Press, 2012); a co-edited book with Amanda J. Cobb, The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations (University of Nebraska Press, 2008); and a co-authored volume, People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1942 (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011). Amy is currently working on two new projects. The first is a visual history of the Ho-Chunk Nation. This research explores family history, tourism, settler colonialism, and Ho-Chunk survivance through an examination of two exceptional collections of studio portraits and tourist images of Ho-Chunk people taken between 1879-1960. The second research project is a historical study documenting the adoption of Indigenous children throughout the twentieth century.   

The annual Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC) at UCSC are a collaboration between the graduate programs in Film and Digital Media Department and Visual Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department. The series brings an array of cutting-edge scholars to speak on a broad spectrum of subjects. Talks are free and open to the public.