Bloch Building, Gallery L11
Admission is FREE
By the 1860s, the Plains Indians found themselves sandwiched in the middle of the country with white advancement on both sides. Rail lines cut directly through their hunting grounds–scattering the game necessary for survival. This exhibition highlights two rare bodies of work created by Alexander Gardner at this pivotal time: Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1867-68 and Scenes in the Indian Country in 1868.
The Across the Continent series was photographed first on the existing railroad line across Kansas (resulting in some of the earliest images of that state) and then along the proposed route to the Pacific Ocean. Gardner's photographs stress the benefits of railroad construction–once railroads were built, towns would follow–and suggest the possibility of successful Indian and settler coexistence.
In 1868, in an attempt to end conflict, an unprecedented gathering of tribal leaders from the Northern Plains assembled at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. For his Scenes in the Indian Country series, Gardner photographed the treaty negotiations between the government-led Indian Peace Commission and the tribes who agreed to give up land and move to reservations.