WE ARE STILL HERE

All My Relations: A Native America Portrait Project

510.469.6075

Self Portrait, Camille Seaman, Shinnecock Tribe.

Self Portrait, Camille Seaman, Shinnecock Tribe.

 

Most of us have seen the photographic works Edward Curtis made during the early part of the 20th century. In 1906, he received $75,000 from JP Morgan to produce a series on North American Native Americans. The unspoken subtext: indigenous Americans were a disappearing race, and thus important to document. It was only a matter of time before they would all be culturally and or physically extinct.

Just over one hundred years later, the history, politics and experience that comprise Native identity are as controversial as ever. Not one treaty made between indigenous peoples and the US government was ever honored. Each one was amended and altered, and sometimes outright revoked. Stereotypes remind us that there are multitudes of problems and indigenous populations have high rates of suicide, poverty, violence and addiction. If we are to become the country we say we are, there are many past hurts that need acknowledgement, many injustices that require resolution.

Neither a history of injustice nor stereotypes tell the whole story. There is also resilience, strength, beauty and self-defining identity. The Indigenous Rising and Idle No More movements have signaled a new phase in Native consciousness, not only as Americans but as citizens of this planet. In this critical time of climate change, native voices are resounding with wisdom and perspective about the importance of honoring and protecting our planet.

 

“I was troubled when the textbooks we read spoke about Natives in the past tense — always implying that we no longer existed.”

That’s why now, in the 21st century, I am setting out to make a new record.It’s time to for us to tell our own stories of who we are and what is important to us. Why portraiture? I am interested in one powerful aspect of the process. I make a portrait as a message to the future — as a statement about who my subjects are in this moment. I ask, just before I press the shutter: “What, through this image, would you like your descendants to know about you, your life — your experience?” With this question, something happens: a gravitas, a moment worthy of recording.
 

When you see these portraits, you may find we no longer look like you think we ought to. But that doesn’t mean we are not here. It’s time for a new record of Native America.

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This project is made possible by your generous contribution. Thank you!

I may be coming to your area. If you would like to participate in this project, please email me to make arrangements. 

HOW DOES IT WORK?
I will be traveling all over the country. I can photograph in your home or outside just about anywhere. I am interested in making images that will be relevant for hundreds of years into the future. Think of them as messages to your descendants. Wear what you want to known for or remembered as.

WHERE WILL THESE PHOTOS END UP?
These photographs will become part of a historic record, A huge portfolio of images that will travel as exhibitions be published as a book and used online in social media. It is also possible that they will be sold to private homes, in galleries or shown in Museums. I will not use them commercially without your consent. Every subject under the age of 18 must have a parent's signed consent to be photographed. All persons photographed must sign a release.

GOT QUESTIONS? Don't hesitate to email me, I am happy to answer!