Sun Dance Encampment--Piegan Like many Americans of his time, Curtis was caught up in the romance of the American West. By the 1890s, the West--with its heroes, rugged individuals, and noble Indians--represented American life before industrialization. But the frontier was rapidly disappearing. The Indian population had been greatly reduced through forced removal, warfare, epidemics, and poor living conditions on reservations. Curtis believed that the American Indian cultures would soon be overwhelmed by the dominant Anglo culture. Curtis saw his work as a race against time to preserve on film and in recordings the native cultures of North America before they vanished.