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Indigenous Photojournalists Present Photo Essays at the National Museum of the American Indian

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Many professional Indigenous photographers are acutely aware of the social toll of colonialism. With recognition of these stories, they embraced photography as a means of empowerment. Developing Stories: Indigenous Photographers in the Field is a series of photo essays created by Indigenous photojournalists Russel Albert Daniels, Tailyr Irvine and Donovan Quintero in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, currently on view in New York.

Daniels’ essay explores the historical complexities that shape a 266-year-old Indigenous/Hispanic community’s sense of self and the genesis of violence, slavery and survival. Irvine’s essay delves into the legacy of US government regulations that impact the most personal decisions of Native Americans, including who they have children with. Quintero’s essay reveals how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Navajo Nation, capturing how individuals, families, healthcare workers and government officials have responded to the pandemic.

Through the modern Indigenous stories portrayed in their work, these photographers shatter stereotypes of Indigenous people still prevalent in mainstream media. These photo essays show the diversity and complexity of modern life for Indigenous peoples, including the issues they face while living in the United States.

Cécile Ganteaume, exhibition curator

Photo essays

Available online and in person, Develop stories was organized by Cécile R. Ganteaume. Contributors Tristan Ahtone (Kiowa), editor at Grist, and John Smock, director of photojournalism at the CUNY School of Journalism, provided editorial and technical expertise to the museum and photographers throughout the development of each photo essay, including the selection of photographers. .

Developing Stories: Indigenous Photographers in the Field is on view at National Museum of the American Indian in New York until March 12, 2023.

For more information, visit americanindian.si.edu.