|Lee Marmon: White Man's Moccasins, 1954, Silver gelatin print.|
A member of the Laguna Pueblo, Lee has captured the people, culture, landscapes, and traditions of his tribe since 1945. His most famous pueblo portrait, White Man’s Moccasins, became the iconic portrayal of Native American acculturation into modern American life.
In addition to his portraits of pueblo residents, Lee was the official photographer for the Bob Hope Desert Classic for several years, yielding photos of past US Presidents and members of the famed “Rat Pack.” His stunning work hangs in the US White House and in museums around the world. He has received honors and awards ranging from winning the 2016 Western Heritage Award from the National cowboy and Western Heritage Museum to an award from the Hungarian government for photography “that transcends cultures.”
His life’s work, an archive of 100,000 negatives, is now protected and preserved by the University of New Mexico. Lee still lives in his Laguna family home on old Route 66—working in the darkroom that was once the women’s shower rooms of his family’s Route 66 motor court business.
The man in the photo White Man's Moccasins is Jeff Sousea. Lee recalls, "Jeff liked to hang out at the Acoma Mission and tell tall tales to tourists. I saw him there often when I delivered groceries and I always asked if I could take his picture. He always refused. Then one day I brought a cigar with me and said 'How about a cigar, Jeff?' and he told me, 'You've got 60 seconds,' and I took the photo. At first, I called it 'Old Man Jeff,' but one day I looked at it again and changed the name to White Man's Moccasins."
Seven of Lee Marmon's iconic black and white photographs are part of the exhibit, "Then and Now: Rediscovering Route 66" and are available for purchase.
©2017 Carol L Adamec. All rights reserved.
Image "White Man's Moccasins" and quotes by Lee Marmon used with permission.