Gilbert Gaul, Standing Rock Agency, North Dakota
Sioux and wife, Semi-Civilized, 1890

In this studio photograph, Gilbert Gaul captures the fractured status of the Native American in 1890. The husband wears a suit and waistcoat, so-called “civilized” dress, while his wife wears traditional, non-Western clothing. The couple represent the two halves of the Native American population, those identified as “civilized” and those considered to be wild and inferior.

This division is also reflected in the terms “taxed” and “not taxed:” generally, taxed referred to Indians that had assimilated into “civilized” life, and not taxed referred to those who followed a traditional way of life. Although the United States government granted citizenship to Native Americans in 1924, the distinction between “taxed” and “not taxed” persisted until 1940.

Standing Rock Agency, Indian couple
Miscellaneous Documents of the House of Representative for the First Session of the Fifty-Second Congress, 1891-92
Volume 50, Part 6
Eleventh census of the United States, 1890
Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States (Except Alaska)
Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894
Gould Library Government Documents