Erdoes, Richard, 1912-2008
Richard Erdoes, illustrator, photographer, and author of more than a dozen books about American Indian life, was born in Vienna, Austria, on July 7, 1912. After immigrating to the United States in 1939, Erdoes embarked on a successful career as a freelance illustrator and photographer in New York City. During the mid-1960s, Erdoes became interested in the civil rights struggle and spiritual beliefs of contemporary American Indians. Outraged by conditions on reservations and fascinated by the American Indian belief systems he encountered, over the next four decades Erdoes wrote, illustrated, and edited a number of adult and children's books on American Indian cultures, folklore, and life. He became a passionate advocate for American Indian civil rights, and an avid documenter of tribal life and spiritual revitalization, particularly among the Lakota. Erdoes was involved in the legal defense of prominent American Indian activists, including Lakota medicine man Leonard Crow Dog, after the 1973 stand-off at Wounded Knee. In 1975, the Erdoes family relocated to Santa Fe where Erdoes continued to write, illustrate, and advocate for Native peoples. Erdoes died in Santa Fe on July 16, 2008.