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Photographs of Princess Atalie Unkalunt collection

Source:
C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa  Search this
Creator:
Hall, Dale, Mrs.  Search this
Former owner:
C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa  Search this
Names:
Curtis, Charles, 1860-1936  Search this
Thorpe, Jim, 1887-1953  Search this
Unkalunt, Princess Atalie, 1895-1954  Search this
Extent:
75 Photographic prints
Culture:
Oklahoma Cherokee  Search this
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Studio portraits
Date:
1900-1950
Summary:
The photographs of Princess Atalie Unkalunt collection includes 75 photographic prints and postcards of Princess Atalie Unkalunt (Oklahoma Cherokee) taken by various photographers throughout her life and career. Princess Atalie Unkalunt, nee Iva J. Rider, (1895 – 1954) was a Cherokee opera singer, artist, author, and community activist.
Scope and Contents:
The bulk of the collection contains photographic prints and postcards of Princess Atalie Unkalunt (Oklahoma Cherokee) taken by various photographers throughout her life and career. Many of the photographs are undated but it is likely that most were taken between 1920 and 1950.

Included in the collection are studio portraits of Princess Atalie, both headshots and full length shots. In many of the studio shots Princess Atalie is wearing a beaded headband, or a full headdress, a hide dress and moccasins and is frequently posed with additional props. However there are a number of studio portraits where she is wearing non-native dress, often wearing a hat and stole. Princess Atalie was also photographed at the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, circa 1920, modeling hide dresses and moccasins from the collection (see related materials note). There are also photographs of Princess Atalie posed with groups or individuals she met throughout her career. This includes photographs with Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox), famed Olympian and athlete; Charles Curtis (Kaw), Vice President to Herbert Hoover; the Girl Scouts of East Orange, Oklahoma; as well as several groups of unidentified children.

Of note are several postcards from Princess Atalie (signed Iva) written to her sisters from her time in the Business Women's Unit of the Y.M.C.A during WWI. There are also photographs that include a note to Atalie's sister Mary as well as a portrait of Mary that had previously been mis-identified as Atalie. In addition to photographs of Princess Atalie, there are portraits of other opera performers who were contemporaries of Princess Atalie. These include portraits of Chief Yowlachie (Yakama), a bass singer and soloist with the Seneca Orchestra; and Yma Sumac, a Peruvian-American soprano.

Known photographers and photo studios include—Albert R. Dupont, Jack Gordon, Del Ankers, Bryant E. Sherman, Albert Green Heath, Pierson Studio, Strand Studio, Chdnoff Studio, Underwood and Underwood Co., Watton Studio (Oklahoma City), Apeda Studio, Sands Studio and Roege Photo.
Arrangement:
Arranged by catalog number P23844-P23911.
Biographical / Historical:
Princess Atalie Unkalunt, nee Iva J. Rider, (1895 – 1954) was a Cherokee opera singer, artist, author, and community activist. Also known as Sunshine Rider, Atalie was born in Stilwell, Oklahoma to Thomas L. Rider (Domgeske Unkalunt), a Cherokee state senator and chairman of Indian affairs, and Josephine Pace Rider. As a child attending Indian schools, Atalie saw the need for a cultural missionary to educate the world about Native people and their place in history. She developed a gift for song at a young age and after finishing her high school studies spent time in California where she gained experience in film and then moved to Boston to begin vocal studies. After the U.S. entered World War I, Atalie joined the Business Women's Unit of the Y.M.C.A. secretly advancing her age several years in order to meet the age requirements. She served 18 months overseas working as an entertainer and secretary. Upon her return to the United States, she settled in New York City to continue her vocal studies and quickly became an acclaimed opera singer. She sang at concert venues around the country and performed at the White House.

Her desire to be a cultural missionary never wavered and she became a lecturer for the New York Board of Education where she spoke to audiences about Native American customs and songs. She broadcasted a radio program to countries in Europe singing both classical arias as well as Native songs. She founded the Society of the First Sons and Daughters of America Foundation whose mission was to recognize and promote the contributions of Native people and give them opportunities to promote their talents in the arts. In addition to her vocal talents, she was a skilled painter and designer and in 1942, she wrote and illustrated the book "The Earth Speaks", a collection of tales adapted from Cherokee legends. In the late 1940s, Atalie moved to Washington D.C. where she spent her time digging through government archival records in order to research claims due the Cherokee Indians from the United States government. Atalie passed away in 1954.
Related Materials:
Three photographs in the collection include images of objects currently in the NMAI collection. These include Princess Atalie wearing a Nimi'ipuu (Nez Perce) hide dress (NMAI 029996), a Ute beaded hide dress (NMAI 050958) and Ute mocassins (NMAI 006986) and Ethyl E. Schellbach wearing a Niuam (Comanche) beaded hide dress (NMAI 021803) and Niuam (Comanche) legging moccasins (NMAI 021132).
Provenance:
Donated by Mrs. Dale Hall to the C.H. Nash Museum (Chucalissa) in 1967. Donated by the C.H. Nash Museum (Chucalissa) to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation in 1978. It is unclear how Mrs. Hall came into the posesssion of the photographs though it is possible she was a friend of the family or a distant relative.
Restrictions:
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: nmaiarchives@si.edu).
Rights:
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to nmaiphotos@si.edu. For personal or classroom use, users are invited users to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not changed, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian.
Topic:
Opera  Search this
Genre/Form:
Studio portraits
Photographic prints
Citation:
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Photographs of Princess Atalie Unkalunt collection, Photo Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAI.AC.117
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmai-ac-117

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