Throughout my work I have focused on photographing Navajo People and our relationship to theland. While portraying this relationship I have always been aware of how our representation has never been without consequence. Historically, photography as a scientific means of categorization cannot be made separate from the social, political, economic and ecological colonization of Native North American. Photography has been used to classify and reinforce theories of racial superiority and strengthened anthropological discourse positioning American Indians as primitive others. More commonly, it has been used to reinforce negative stereotypes of Indians, pervasive throughout American culture.
My work is a response to the ways in which photography has been used as a mechanism of colonization. Decolonizing photography for the use of American Indians has to occur through the articulation of a Native representational subjectivity. In the place of colonizing representation, I want to produce images and sensory experience, which convey representation of, by and for American Indians. This means developing a methodological practice, a framework from which to draw upon. It is towards these ends that I see my work progressing.
In my work there are stories that I grew up with, stories bringing together the cultural weave from which I come. These stories are personal to me as an individual and a member/citizen of a people; therefore, they must be presented and received with respect. In a way it is a ceremony, it’s about exorcising discursive demons that have been planted in our minds and the processes of remembrance and continuance that enable us to keep functioning.
For Indians, I want to produce experiences that bring us close to home, while unsettling us with the evidences of colonization. I want my work to strengthen Indians with examples of resistance, and the possibilities of controlling one’s own representation. For non-Indians I want to call into question the uncritical consumption of images of American Indians both positive and negative. This is to be done my presenting experience that articulates a history of life constantly remembered, strengthened and continued in the face of colonization.