Fascinating portraits of First Nation People of Alberta from 1910

By Paul Pinkerton
Publish Date:

These magnificent portraits  that you are about to see, were taken by the  Canadian photographer Harry Pollard, whose specialty was photographing First Nations.


Assiniboine camp

First Nations in Alberta are indigenous peoples who live in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Big Belly, Tsuu T’ina chief.


Calf Robe


Chief Duck

The First Nations are those peoples (or nations) recognized as Aboriginal peoples in Canada excluding the Inuit and the Métis.

According to the Canadian census, in 2001 a population of 84,990 Albertans reported a “North American Indian” (i.e. First Nations) identity, rising to 116,670 in 2011 or 13.7% of all First Nations people in Canada.

Giving Alberta the third largest First Nations population among the provinces and territories (after Ontario and BC).

From this total around half of the population lives on an Indian reserve (58,782 Registered Indians lived on-reserve in Alberta in 2005).

Chief White Head, Nakoda chief.


Herbert Lawrence of Siksika Nation


Jim Rabbit, Kainai Nation


Joe Big Plume of Tsuu T’ina Nation


Lone Walker


Lone Walking Buffalo, Nakoda Nation


Martin Breaker, Nakoda Nation


Martin Horses of the Kainai Nation.


Mrs. Thomas of Tsuu T’ina Nation.

The rest of the population lives off-reserve, amongst the rest of the Canadian population. Many of these are urban

Aboriginals living in cities, especially Edmonton (the provincial capital) which had an off-reserve status population of 18,210 people in 2011, the second highest for any city in Canada (after Winnipeg).

All photos by Harry Pollard/Provincial Archives of Alberta

Old Tom, Tsuu T’ina Nation


Peter Wesley, Nakoda Nation


Rabbit Carrier.


Raw Eater of Siksika Nation


Red Leggings


Running Antelope, Tsuu T’ina shaman.


Savage Hunting Eagle, Nakoda Nation


Spring Chief


Walking Buffalo of Nakoda Nation


Wide Face Chief of Piikani Nation


Wolfe Caller of Siksika Nation


Wolfe Robe


Wolfe Teeth of Nakoda Nation.


Besides this there were 19,945 people in Alberta in 2011 who claimed a North American Indian identity on the census but are not part of the official Indian Register; such people are commonly called “non-status Indians”.

There are 48 First Nations or “bands” in Alberta (in the sense of governments made up of a council and a chief), belonging to nine different ethnic groups or “tribes” based on their ancestral languages.