Peoples of the Plateau:
The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915

The historic photographs on view in Peoples of the Plateau come from the Knight Library Special Collections at the University of Oregon, Eugene and the National Anthropological Archives. They were taken between 1898-1915 in several areas around Eastern Washington and Oregon. An amateur photographer and agent of the Umatilla reservation, Moorhouse took over 9,000 pictures in and around Pendleton, Oregon documenting this transitory period of Pacific Northwest culture as it moved from frontier life to the modern era. Using a large camera with dry gelatin plates, Moorhouse produced a dynamic and expansive pictorial record of the area largely attributed to his good relations with the Native peoples of the region.

In 1898, amateur photographer Thomas Leander "Lee" Moorhouse began recording scenes in Oregon. His 9,000 glass plate negatives are little known today, but they provide a rich and important visual record of the interior Pacific Northwest as it transitioned from frontier life to the modern era.

At the end of the 19th century, Pendleton and the surrounding country had a Wild West pedigree that few areas could match. For two centuries the local Native population had made the locale an epicenter of North American Indian horse culture. The region hosted Lewis and Clark and the British and American fur trade companies that followed them. The Oregon Trail crossed the land upon which Pendleton was founded and numerous Indian War skirmishes were also fought nearby.

Dr. Whirlwind, Cayuse Tribe, ca. 1905
Photo by Lee Moorhouse.
From the Division of Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Library System.