Rare Access

An Insider’s Look at the Midcentury Kiowa: Photos by Horace Poolaw

For 50 years, Horace Poolaw offered a rare perspective into life as a Native American on the Southern Plains in the middle of the last century. See images from a new show of his work.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

For 50 years, Kiowa photographer Horace Poolaw (1906-1984) offered a rare inside perspective into life as a Native American on the Southern Plains in the middle of the last century, documenting friends, family, and community, from weddings and parades to dates and baseball. The new exhibit and accompanying book, “For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw,” on view at New York’s National Museum of the American Indian through February 15, 2015, is based on the Poolaw Photography Project, begun by his daughter and continued by Native scholars.

Left: Jerry Poolaw (Kiowa), on leave from duty in the Navy. Anadarko, Oklahoma, ca. 1944.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Lucy “Princess Watahwaso” Nicolar (Penobscot, third from left), Justin Poolaw (Kiowa, center right on car), and Bruce Poolaw (Kiowa, far right) during a stop at Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show on their way to New York City. Pawnee, Oklahoma, ca. 1930.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Robert “Corky” and Linda Poolaw (Kiowa/Delaware), dressed up and posed for the photo by their father, Horace. Anadarko, Oklahoma, ca. 1947.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Gladys Komalty (Kiowa) at the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Pageant. Medicine Lodge, Kansas, 1932.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Funeral of Agnes (Mrs. Abel) Big Bow (Kiowa). Hog Creek, Oklahoma, 1947.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Gus Palmer (Kiowa, at left), side gunner, and Horace Poolaw (Kiowa), aerial photographer, in front of a B-17 Flying Fortress. MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, ca. 1944.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

The deacons of Rainy Mountain Baptist Church. Left to right: Adolphus Goombi (Kiowa), Lester Momaday (Kiowa), Robert Goombi (Kiowa), Porter Drywater (Cherokee). Rainy Mountain Church, Mountain View, Oklahoma, ca. 1930.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Fancy war dance at the Craterville Park Indian Fair. Chester Lefthand (Cheyenne), center. Cache, Oklahoma, ca. 1928.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Jerry Poolaw (Kiowa), Horace’s son. Mountain View, Oklahoma, ca. 1929.

(c) 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Eula Mae Narcomey Doonkeen (Seminole) in the American Indian Exposition Parade. Anadarko, Oklahoma, ca. 1952.