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

Moving Photos Show Native American Children Defending The Earth

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.

PHOTO GALLERY
The Warrior Project
CONVERSATIONS