For the past year, Matika Wilbur has been traveling the United States in an effort to photograph every single Native American tribe in the country. Capturing portraits of members of the Apache, Swinomish, Hualapai, Northern Cheyenne, Tlingit, Pomo, and Lumbee tribes, she hopes to shed light on the complex history and diversity of these "first peoples."
White Mountain Apache Crown Dancer
Project 562 took its name from the 562 tribes federally recognized at the beginning of her project -- there are now 566. Her portraits reveal the faces of the young and old, isolated and urban, staunchly traditional and mainstream professional; a wide range of photographs that Wilbur hopes will shatter the common misconception that Native Americans are a "vanishing race."
“I hate that stereotype,” she explained in an interview with Seattle Magazine. “Culture is intact; across the country, native peoples are singing songs, weaving baskets, telling stories.”
Jane Blackmen, Pala
Wilbur herself is a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes and a former resident of The Swinomish Reservation near La Conner, Washington. She has been on the road since last December, and has since set up two Kickstarter campaigns to help finance her ambitious cross-country project, hoping to turn her massive photo collection into a series of exhibitions, books and curricula for students in the United States.
"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," she adds on her current Kickstarter page.
Sage Romero, Big Pine Paiute
Wilbur has already garnered a whopping $131,692 in donations on her Kickstarter, wildly exceeding her expectations. She set her goal amount at $54,000. You can view a preview of Project 562 here and let us know your thoughts on the photos in the comments.
Robert and Fannie Mitchell, Diné
Raymond Mattz, Yurok
Mary Evelyn, Ohkay Owingeh and Isleta Pueblos
Martin Sensmeier, Tlingit and Koyukon-Athabascan
Tatanka Means, Oglala Lakota, Omaha and Navajo Nations