Project 562

That’s the name of an excellent project up on Kickstarter launched by Matika Wilbur, who aims to collect photographic stories from citizens of every federally recognized tribe in the United States. Not only will this gather the vital narratives and perspectives of a marginalized and under-appreciated group,  but it will result in books, exhibitions, and curricula that will educate generations for years to come. Here’s a great summary of this initiative by the ambitious Wilbur herself:

Last December, I sold everything in my Seattle apartment, packed a few essentials into my war pony, and hit the open road. Since then, I’ve been embarking on an epic adventure: Project 562.

For the past year I have been fulfilling the project’s goal of photographing citizens of each federally recognized tribe in the United States (there are now 566). Most of the time, I’ve been invited to geographically remote reservations to take portraits and hear stories from a myriad of tribes, while at other times I’ve photographed members of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings. My hope, is that when the project is complete, it will serve to educate the nation and shift the collective consciousness toward recognizing our own indigenous communities.

Imagine walking through an exhibit and realizing the complex variety of contemporary Native America. Imagine experiencing a website or book, that offered insight into every Tribal Nation in the United States. What if you could download previously untold histories and stories from Apaches, Swinomish, Hualapai, Northern Cheyenne, Tlingit, Pomo, Lumbee, and other first peoples? What if you had heard those stories in grade school?

Such a task hasn’t been undertaken since 1906, so we’re long overdue for a contemporary and vital recollection of America’s misunderstood indigenous heritage. Indeed, as the project’s official mission statement notes:

Project 562 creatively addresses and remedies historical inaccuracies, stereotypical representations, and the absence of Native American images and voices in mass media and the national consciousness.  I believe that there is an open space that is yet to be filled- that space is authentic images and stories from within Native America. My work aims to humanize, the otherwise “vanishing race”, and share the stories that our people would like told. In this respectful way, I have been welcomed into hundreds of tribal communities, and I have found that people welcome Project 562, because they are ready to see things change. Conversations about tribal sovereignty, self-determination, wellness, recovery from historical trauma, and revitalization of culture will accompany the photos in captions, video, and audio recordings.

The time of sharing, building cultural bridges, abolishing racism and honoring the legacy that this country is built on is among us. Project 562 is that platform.

You can learn more about the project on Upworthy or visit the official Kickstater page here, where to can see more videos, photos, and details, and donate whatever you can before February 21st. Thankfully, Project 352 has already garnered nearly three times its funding goals, which means we can expect an even more beautiful and in-depth collection of stories and photos.

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