Photographer On A Quest To Capture Native Americans' Diversity

Matika Wilbur hopes her photos will help foster more accurate representations of American Indians in curricula and the media.

Three years ago, Seattle photographer Matika Wilbur set out on an ambitious journey that has thus far required her to trek 250,000 miles around the country.

Frustrated with the stereotypical images that Wilbur saw dominating narratives about the Native America community, she set out to capture all of the nation’s (then) 562 federally-recognized tribes. (There are 566 today.)

That is how Project 562 began. Herself a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, Wilbur has been visiting reservations -- some in remote areas -- throughout the country and shooting photos for her collection since December 2013. Her journey is well underway, reports Hilal Isler at The Guardian.

The Guardian reports that Wilbur will be completing the latest leg of her journey in the northeastern U.S. later this month.

She is hopeful her photographs will help broaden the perception of what it means to be Native American today, replacing more narrow ideas that fail to accurately represent the diverse population. She plans to showcase the photos in exhibitions, publications and curricula.

“I’m ultimately doing this because our perception matters,” Wilbur explained to the Guardian. “Our perception fuels racism. It fuels segregation. Our perception determines the way we treat each other.”

Meanwhile, Wilbur shares samples of her collection-in-progress on Instagram and has already been exhibiting some as well, including a show this month at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

According to a story in the Ferris State Torch, the university's student newspaper,Wilbur had planned to complete her journey within three years. But with three years under her belt and about 200 tribes to go, Wilbur expects she has another two years ago.


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