Unidentified Native American Man Paddling in Canoe
April 13, 2021
This historical photograph of a Native American man in a canoe is interesting because it is a bit of a mystery; as opposed to the majority of the photos collected by the Montana Memory Project, about which there is a great deal of information, we know very little about this photo.
For instance, the archive is unable to say for sure who the subject is, where the photo was taken, or, indeed, who took the photo, though it does resemble the work of photographer R.H. McKay.
McKay came out West to be a barber, but quickly discovered a love of photography. He set up a professional studio in Missoula in the early 1910s and enjoyed a bustling trade in photographing western Montana for many years until his retirement in the 1940s. That makes this a very late photograph for McKay, who is probably best known for portraits of Native-American life.
We also don't know when the photograph was taken, but given the quality of the film and the general look of the photo we can assume it is either late 19th century or very early 20th.
Do you think you can recognize where the photo was taken from the view? Is it a lake or a river? Can you tell us anything about the Native-American man in the canoe?