|Nina Sanders, NMAI Intern, as a child with her grandmother, Margo. Photograph provided by Nina Sanders.|
|"Everything She Joins" Florence Real Bird, great-grandmother to the author, viewing a photograph. Photograph provided by Nina Sanders.|
A few months after I graduated from Arizona State I applied for an internship at the National Museum of the American Indian in the Archive Center. I was accepted and departed for Washington D.C, this time without the photograph since I left it for my two teenage daughters to be reminded of their roots. Upon my arrival at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) I began my work in the archives with a very specific project to work with Apsáalooke photographs, particularly a collection of photographs made by William Wildschut, an employee of the NMAI’s predecessor institution, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation.
|Apsáalooke Chief Plenty Coups (Alaxchiiaahush) with William Wildschut. Plenty Coups is wearing his war bonnet (báashbaleikkupe), war shirt (baleiíttashtee) decorated with beads and ermine and beaded gauntlets (Crow floral), circa 1917-1928. [N31139] William Wildschut photograph collection. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.|
Part of my project in the NMAI archives was to prepare a guide to the William Wildschut photograph collection that could be made available online through the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive. Over the course of the summer I analyzed negatives, prints, and postcards, identified people, researched families, replaced many terms with Apsáalooke expressions, and provided descriptions that would allow the world to see the William Wildshut photographs through Apsáalooke eyes. As I worked though the Wildschut negatives I came across a very distinctive photograph. It was that same black and white photograph that my great-grandmother held in her hands over 20 years before, the same picture that I had later uncovered in my grandmothers dresser drawer. Among the photographic negatives of the William Wildschut collection I found the very image that carried me through my young life as a mother, student and Apsáalooke woman.
|Annie and Frank Bethune with grandchildren Martha Real Bird, Jim Real Bird and Lorraine Real Bird. Copy of N32325 from the William Widschut photograph collection. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.|
Nina Sanders, Summer Intern (2016)
National Museum of the American Indian, Archive Center
The finding aid to the William Wildschut photograph collection can now be found online on the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive (SOVA). Wildschut's correspondence and manuscript materials can be found in the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records.