GREEN

Moving Photos Show Native American Children Defending The Earth

04/15/2015 07:09 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2015

Photographer Tailinh Agoyo believes that even though adults are destroying the earth, children will be the ones to fix the mess they’ve inherited.

“Children are so knowledgeable [about environmental issues],” Agoyo, who is also an actress, told The Huffington Post. “They know what’s going on and they’re more aware and more affected than adults are.”

For the past few months, Agoyo has been documenting this idea through her photo series The Warrior Project, which captures images of Native American children defending the planet. Agoyo, with the help of Ryan Begay, has photographed Native children around New Mexico, and in the coming months she plans to photograph more children in states like New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Utah.

Scroll down to see The Warrior Project's photos of Native American children.

The idea for the project came to Agoyo -– who has roots with the Blackfeet and Narragansett tribes -- while discussing environmental issues with her 11-year-old son. She said the pair decided it would be compelling to visually document “the effects of what we’re doing on the environment and what [the world] could look like when they get older and have children.”

Agoyo and her son headed out to a barren location with lots of “dirt and hills and broken down trees," and decided to shoot.

“We were shooting and talking about it, and this look came over his face. And as I was shooting I was like ‘oh my goodness.' He really absorbed all of the information and it’s reflecting on his face so strongly,” said Agoyo.

It wasn’t before long that Agoyo decided she wanted to build on this idea and "travel to different native territories, people affected by the pollution or mining or corporations … and talk to the children.”

While Agoyo says that environmental issues impact all the world’s people, in Native American communities, she argues, “there’s just this tie to the earth … We’re just raised being very in touch with the earth and its rhythms.”

"The children we photograph are nurtured in a culture where the importance of honoring the earth is part of their DNA," Agoyo says on the project's website. "They are not passive victims. They are budding change makers, activists, and empowered leaders. They are warriors of strength, knowledge and ancestral power."

In the future, Agoyo says she wants the project to go global and document children around the world.

Below are some of her photos and the captions she provided.

  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Quaye Tribe: Ohkay Owingeh/Narragansett/Blackfeet
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Marissa Tribe: Cochiti Pueblo
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Luca Tribe: Ohkay Owingeh/Narragansett/Blackfeet "Some workers are trying to make a pipeline from Canada through the whole United States. If the pipeline busts, gross oil from Canada gets into our clean water. If that happens we won’t have clean water to drink and if we don’t have clean water to drink we will dehydrate and if that happens we might die in three to four days. If we die, nobody will be on earth, even animals! It‘s also really dangerous so I hope it doesn’t happen. Do you hope it doesn’t happen?" -- Luca
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Magdalena Tribe: Apache/Navajo
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Nolan

    Tribe: Navajo/Cherokee

    In 2014, Nolan spoke out against a proposal for a cell tower near his elementary school. He protested in the snow, attended school board meetings, and was the only student who spoke in front of city council for the final decision. The proposal was ultimately denied.

    "I fight with my brain, not with my muscles. Diné [Navajo] people come from the Twin Warriors and the warrior tradition is important because it is like a religion. You must stand up for what you believe in and protect the Earth because if you don't, you aren't honoring her." -- Nolan
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Micah Tribe: Ohkay Owingeh/Narragansett
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Nathaniel Tribe: Apache/Navajo
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Ben Tribe: Apache
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Hannah Tribe: Cochiti Pueblo
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Macy Tribe: Cherokee "There is no such thing as 'there will always be water' because people don't take care of it. It's not a right to have water. It is a privilege. To some people, water is just a clear liquid you see every day. It is so much more. If we didn't have water in our world then we wouldn't have very many animals, plants, humans or food left. One day there will be no more than 25 percent animals or 25 percent plants left in this world. There will be 'that one day.'" -- Macy
  • Tailinh Agoyo
    Name: Mahko Tribe: Apache
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