Frank Albert Rinehart was born in Lodi, Illinois in 1861. At some point in the 1870s he and his brother moved to Colorado and started working at a photography studio in Denver. When he was about twenty, Frank and his brother formed a partnership with the famous Western photographer William Henry Jackson. It was under Jackson that Rinehart perfected his, not inconsiderable professional photography skills. However Frank also became particularly interested in Native American culture.
In 1898 Rinehart was commissioned to photograph the Indian Congress, which was held in conjunction with the Trans-Missisippi and International Exposition, and the Native American personalities who were attending it.
The pictures are considered by many to be some of the best photographic representations of Native American leaders at the turn of the century. Tom Southall, the former curator at the University of Kansas’ Spencer Art Museum, said of the Rinehart photographs:
The dramatic beauty of these portraits is especially impressive as a departure from earlier, less sensitive photographs of Native Americans. Instead of being detached, ethnographic records, the Rinehart photographs are portraits of individuals with an emphasis on strength of expression. While Rinehart and Muhr were not the first photographers to portray Indian subjects with such dignity, this large body of work which was widely seen and distributed may have had an important influence in changing subsequent portrayals of Native Americans.