Keynote Speaker

Paul Unks, founder, and owner of Mountain Hawk Fine Art has become a beacon for insight within his historical and contemporary understanding of the life and times of renowned 19th-century photographer Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians.  In addition to his narrative as a master printer and Curtis historian, his speeches feature master images of the Southwest, Plains, and Northwest Nations set to music composed and performed by Native Americans, in addition to exhibiting displays of his works. His presentations also cover the challenging circumstances under which Curtis produced his incredible body of work, his techniques, importance to the evolution of photography, and his contributions to a greater understanding and appreciation of Native Americans.

Driven by his respect and compassion for Native Americans and their culture, Unks has been called to defend stigmas that present Curtis’s work as inaccurate and embellished depictions of Native American life in those times.  He has previously given seminars that have addressed these sentiments and brought to light historical context that builds engagement based upon provoking thought instead of controversy.

Much of Paul’s understanding of native culture comes from a primary contemporary dialogue between himself and Native Americans whose ancestors are in Curtis’s photographs.  Paul accredits much of his knowledge to his relationships with Native American individuals and families, as well as his involvement with Native groups such as the World Council of Elders where the “Keepers of the Spiritual Wisdom” gather to share their teachings.

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