Camille Seaman is a stunning photographer whose work has appeared everywhere from National Geographic to TIME Magazine. As a member of the Shinnecock Montaukett Tribes, she’s about to road trip across Native America to make a record of her strong and resilient community and document that they are still here, strong and beautiful in the 21st Century.
When Edward Curtis produced the North American Native American series in 1906, there was an unspoken subtext: indigenous Americans were a disappearing race, and thus important to document. It was only a matter of time before they would all be culturally and or physically extinct. Just over one hundred years later, the history, politics and experience that comprise Native identity are as controversial as ever. Stereotypes remind us that there are multitudes of problems that indigenous populations face, including high rates of suicide, poverty, violence and addiction. But neither a history of injustice nor stereotypes tell the whole story. There is also resilience, strength, beauty and self-defining identity – and these are the traits that Camille is set out to capture through portraiture.
It’s time for someone to tell their stories, of who they are and what is important to them. In this critical time of climate change, native voices are resounding with wisdom and perspective about the importance of honoring and protecting our planet. Camille’s unique approach will be a message to the future and capture her subjects in the moment. Before she presses the shutter on her camera, she will ask: “What, through this image, would you like your descendants to know about you, your life — your experience?” With this question, something happens: a gravitas, a moment worthy of recording.