The modern and enlightened narrative on post-Civil War meetings between cowboys and native Americans homes in on communication as opposed to conflict. Of course, the truth was somewhere between the two and the Comanche in particular were not renowned for holding summits with those traveling west.
The work of Charlie Russell, the celebrated American painter of the wild west, has certainly influenced me as he understood how the grandeur of the American West added an extra character for free into his frontier storytelling. He also was sympathetic to the depiction of Native Americans and his work more often embodied a sense of peace not aggression. Given the amount of time he spent living with The Blackfeet Nation in Montana in the late 1880s, this is instructive.
There could be no more jaw dropping backdrop for this meeting than Monument Valley; it is the beating heart of the South West. But to take this photograph was a big logistical exercise and we wonder whether we may have broken new ground here. The route up the escarpment to the south is just too steep for most horsemen. I can’t find anything quite like it and that is always a good moment.
It was a cold morning at that altitude, even in October and the light snow cover adds an additional layer to the story. It is very much my kind of photograph.