Material History of American Religion Project

Picturing Faith: Religious America in Government Photography, 1935 - 1943

Skull
Marion Post Wolcott
August 1941
Lame Deer, Montana

For Roy Stryker and the FSA photographers, religion in America meant the faith of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. Islam, Asian religious communities, and the rituals of Native Americans did not appear in the file. This is the only photograph that has any connection with native spiritual traditions. Marion Post Wolcott’s caption captures the condescending attitude that many Americans expressed toward Indians: “Skull in front of Indian steam bath on Cheyenne Indian Tongue river reservation to keep evil spirits away, a belief which is part of their ‘medicine.’”

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