Although the photographic portrayal of American Indians is not unique, this exhibit differs from other representations in several respects. Historic portraits of Indians often presented them in the artificial environment of the studio, frequently having to wear the regalia of a tribe to which they did not belong. Unlike the posed Indians in historic portraits, the individuals portrayed in the current exhibit chose what they would wear, where they would pose, and they tell their story through the accompanying narratives, in which they express what it is like to be an Indian in Kansas today.
The underlying purpose of this exhibit is to sweep away the misconceptions, biases, and ignorance that sometimes obscure our understanding of one another. The picturing of Indian people as real individuals, with unique histories, experiences, feelings, and traditions is the best way to dispel some of these long held and unquestioned judgements. In essence, this exhibit contains the self-portraits of American Indians who speak their own story at a moment in time. The images and words seen here should be considered the representations of living people who are forever changing.