A TRIBUTE TO LEE MARMON, 1925-2021
by Ramona Caplan, a UNM History Ph.D. candidate and former Fellow of the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries. Caplan is writing her dissertation based on oral history interviews she conducted with Marmon.
Lee Marmon, the master artist and beloved American treasure, passed away March 31, 2021, at age 95, a life well lived. Lee Marmon is often called the father of contemporary Native American photography. His iconic photographs are exhibited in art museums around the world, most notably his most celebrated photograph entitled “White Man’s Moccasins.” Lee Marmon’s iconic photographs preserve the elders and the landscape of Pueblo Country in the mid-twentieth century. Their precious legacy remains forever preserved in the photography of Lee Marmon. These people from the ancient pueblos of New Mexico will now be with us forever.
Lee Marmon’s breathtaking landscapes reverently illuminate the vivid scenery of Indian Country with dramatic intensity, capturing missions in shadow, and majestic mesas. For over a half century, this Native American man from Laguna Pueblo used his photographer’s lens to record a passing generation of elders and their traditional way of life, and the enchanted scenes of Indian Country. Lee Marmon’s work is a bridge to those elder times.
Lee Marmon is survived by his wife Kathy Marmon; son Leland Marmon; daughters Leslie Marmon Silko and Gigi Pilcher; son Chris; brother Kenneth; nephews Hank, Bru, Richard, and Jimmy; and nieces Josie Kie, Rhoda Marmon, and Maggie; and countless friends and admirers. May his memory be a blessing.