26 Amazing Vintage Photos of First Nations People Before the 1900s

Alex Ross (1851–1894) came to Calgary, Alberta in 1884 and set up a photographic studio at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Osler Street. He had previously worked for a photographer in Winnipeg, but felt the time was right to strike out on his own and establish his own business.

He quickly became well-known for his photographs of the First Nations people in the Calgary area, especially the Tsuu T’ina (called Sarcee at that time) and the Blackfoot. Some of the photographs were taken outdoors, but many more were carefully-posed studio shots. By 1891 the studio seems to have closed, and three years later Ross died at the relatively young age of 43.

Blackfoot boys, 1886-94
Blackfoot man in blanket, 1886-89
Blackfoot man with knife, 1885-94
Blackfoot man with rifle, Alberta, 1887
Blackfoot warrior with sword, 1887
Blackfoot woman and baby on her back, 1886
Blackfoot woman and child in the late 1880s
Blackfoot women, 1880s
Bobtail, Cree chief, Alberta, 1886
Chief Owl of the Blackfoot, 1886
Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfoot, 1887
Crowfoot, head chief of the Blackfoot, 1887
First Nations camp near first Hudson’s Bay Company store at Fort Calgary, Alberta, 1886
First Nations man and his wife, 1886
First Nations man in blanket, 1886-90
Joseph, Blackfoot man, 1887
Rabbit Carrier of the Blackfoot, 1886-94
Rabbit Carrier of the Blackfoot, 1887-89
Sarcee camp west of Calgary, 1886-89
Sarcee man, 1887
Sarcee moving camp near Calgary, 1887
Sarcee woman, Katie, and her baby, 1887
Three young Blackfoot men, 1887
Three young Blackfoot men, Calgary, Alberta, 1887
Two of the first pupils at the Blackfoot Anglican School, 1886
Two Sarcee girls, 1887

(Photos from Glenbow Museum)

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