This collection contains 73 studio portraits of Native Americans from southwestern Arizona, and were probably taken between
1880 and 1883 in
E.A. Bonine’s photography tent in Yuma, Arizona.
Elias A. Bonine (1843-1916) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his early life, but at some point
he became interested in photography for a career.
In 1876, Bonine sold a sawmill he owned and moved to California along with his cameras. He traveled throughout California,
operating a tent photography business as he went. His travels from 1880 to
1883 took him to Yuma, Arizona, where he photographed the Yuma, Mohave, and Cocopa Indians. The point of these photographs
was not to archive the tribes’ cultures, but to satisfy customers’ desires
to see a romanticized version of the Indians. Despite his popularity, Bonine left Yuma and moved back west to Pasadena, where
he set up his home base. He travelled back to Arizona in later years,
photographing the Silver King Mine area and the town of Pinal.
73 photographs in 1 box; photographs 17.5 x 11 cm. (7 x 4 in.)
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