Three Nez Perce Men Posing With Deer Carcass and an Old Buick
February 24, 2021
Some historical photos really capture an interesting feeling, and this photograph almost resembles a Renaissance painting for all of the interesting stuff going on therein.
The men pictured are the colorfully named Cleofaus Tellier, Joe McClure, and Alex Curley. Unfortunately, given the washed-out quality of the photograph, we're not sure which man is which. But we'll take them one by one.
The man on the left is either eating something or playing a harmonica. Either one is an interesting choice, given the rest of the scene. The next man is leaning against the ancient Buick in a particularly jaunty way. His right hand is inside the car, and his left may be holding a cigarette. He is the only man in the photo looking into the camera. The man on the far right is pouring water into the car's radiator, and nothing of his face is visible.
But the real focus of the photograph is the good-sized buck resting on the Buick's running board. The idea of storing the buck there seems to be a curious one, but it certainly does look peaceful there. If we didn't know better, we'd say he was taking a nap.
Cleofaus Tellier is the older brother of Albert Tellier, a Nez Perce native who spent much of his early life in St. Ignatius on the Flathead Indian Reservation. In his early 20s, he discovered a passion for photography, and he took dozens of photos of his family and life on the reservation that are invaluable today. Somewhat contrary to the style of the time, many of the photos have a sense of whimsical humor, particularly those of his daughter Violet, frequently photographed with puppies, or with her head poking out of a bucket, or wearing her father's boots.
Albert Tellier eventually moved to California, serving as a shipyard worker during World War II. He died in Sacramento in 1972, having witnessed a vast and fascinating swath of 20th-century history.