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Images of the Woodlands

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Images of the Plains

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Images of the Southwest

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Royal W. (Roland) Reed JR. (1864 – 1934) was a fastidious artist who used photography as his chosen medium to document the ways of eight Indigenous American tribes at the turn of the 20th century. Little is known of this photographer, whose untimely death and lack of resources failed to award him the same recognition as his most notable contemporary, Edward S. Curtis (1868 – 1952).  


Reed was a pictorialist, a term derived from an artistic movement introduced in the 1860s in Europe. Pictorialism inspired self-expression in imagery through tonality and composition, rather than the traditional scientific approach to photography of the era. 

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Like American photographer, Edward S. Curtis, Reed wanted to represent the Native Americans in their glory, not in the altered state they very often found them. The U.S. government decimated much of their cultural norms by forcing indigenous children into boarding schools, cutting their hair, and banning the use of native languages. Reed went to great lengths to recreate scenes, to portray the old way of life in all its tradition and majesty. His work emanates cultural pride and the unmistakable bond shared by a people and their land.


Reed immersed himself within the tribes he photographed, overcoming hesitation and often aggression from leaders who opposed his presence. His method was always to gain their trust and garner permission to capture images which on some accounts were deeply personal.



In spring 2021, Jace Romick bought over 120 glass plate negatives, Roland Reed’s apple-box size camera, journals, letters and one of the only watercolors to survive this large collection of artifacts. In summer 2022, the Roland Reed Gallery officially opened in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where it will remain indefinitely.

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