Tribal Photography.

© Jimmy Nelson.

© Jimmy Nelson.

How often do you learn a valuable lesson from pissing yourself drunk, besides, “never drink that much again?” While traveling with a Central Mongolian tribe, photographer Jimmy Nelson learned lessons both in reindeer psychology and humor after downing too much vodka and wetting his tent. As the story goes, he woke up to reindeer charging into his bed (apparently they love human urine). Nelson tells this and more stories, accompanied by his majestic portraits of the customs and trappings of indigenous peoples from accross the world, in a new video from the Cooperative of Photography. Like Aesop’s fables, Nelson’s anecdotes have lessons touching on knowledge, vulnerability, and pride. Young photographers can also learn a lot about how to interact with subjects respectfully and purposefully.


© Jimmy Nelson.


© Jimmy Nelson.


Jimmy Nelson currently has a show at Gallery KNOKKE through September 18. See more of his work on his website. Visit the Cooperative of Photography for more tips, tricks, and interviews with photographers.

Via The Creators Project, where there are more photos.

Ancestors and Descendants.

Robert Geronimo, a descendant of Geronimo, works at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, the tribe’s resort and casino in Mescalero, New Mexico. He became aware of his famous ancestor when he was in kindergarten. Photo by Kerri Cottle.

Robert Geronimo, a descendant of Geronimo, works at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, the tribe’s resort and casino in Mescalero, New Mexico. He became aware of his famous ancestor when he was in kindergarten. Photo by Kerri Cottle.

Meet the family of Geronimo:

Their Apache ancestors were chased, hunted and herded into history. Shaped by decades of war, Geronimo, Cochise, Victorio, Lozen and Mangas Coloradas (and those they ran with) cultivated a genius for survival so their descendants could live on.

But live on, how? By letting the ancestral legacy of greatness and distinction define them, or by wearing the identity lightly? For the living descendants of the Geronimo family of Mescalero, New Mexico, the answer is both.

The first time Robert Geronimo became aware of his famous ancestor was in kindergarten.

“A kid comes up to me and says ‘I want to beat up a Geronimo.’ I said ‘I haven’t done anything to you, you haven’t done anything to me.’ The kid threw a punch and I returned it,” he explained, “and we both ended up in the principal’s office.”

From then on his grandparents taught him to read between the lines of accounts of his great-grandfather as a blood-thirsty killing machine, or even as a “chief” leading his people.

You can read more about the Geronimo family here.

Hazel Spottedbird, seen here with her husband Tommy, is a descendant of Cochise. (Photo by Kerri Cottle).

Hazel Spottedbird, seen here with her husband Tommy, is a descendant of Cochise. (Photo by Kerri Cottle).

Meet the descendants of Cochise:

Their Apache ancestors were chased, hunted and herded into history. Shaped by decades of war, Geronimo, Cochise, Victorio, Lozen and Mangas Coloradas (and those they ran with) cultivated a genius for survival so their descendants could live on.

Cochise (c. 1805 – June 8, 1874) was a reluctant Apache warrior, but a persistent one who survived the Battle of Apache Pass to fight on another decade. His descendants, who live on reservation lands granted after the Indian Wars in Mescalero, New Mexico, are inheritors of that doggedness. By vocation and avocation they continue their ancestor’s fight for Apache survival.


Hazel Spottedbird’s grandfather Christian Naiche Jr., grandson to Cochise, was born a prisoner of war and lived the first 13 years of his life in the Apache prison camps of the Southeast.

“Grandpa didn’t say a whole lot to us about his early life as a child prisoner, because we were still young ourselves,” Hazel explained. But he was among those Apache elders who provided oral histories to Eve Ball, whose papers are archived in the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department at the University of Texas in El Paso.

“I am a very proud Chiricahua Apache because of those names Naiche and Cochise,” she declared. “My grandpa lived without fear, my mother also; she would not be told what to do, she had her own mind. I feel like I’m like that now, out of my three sisters I’m the one who’s out there: I dance, participate, I’m not afraid.”

You can read more about the family of Cochise here.

A lot of people make jokes about famous, well known Indians. Pretty much everyone has heard Geronimo’s name used as an adjective and an exclamation. What people don’t realize, or think about, is that these family lines are alive and well, and their ancestors are much loved, in the same way of people everywhere, who love grandparents and great grandparents. So, the next time you might think about joking in that manner, or hear someone else doing it, give a gentle reminder to yourself or another, that these were people, and they still have family who don’t think they are jokes. Why hurt people when you don’t need to, yeah?

Sunday Dance.

No facepalm today. No eyerolls. No head shaking, no crying, no despair, no sense of hopelessness. I need healing, and it’s days away until the camps and wacipi. So, just for today, I’m going to pretend that all people are good, and all people are as connected to all as they should be. Way back when these photos were just taken, I uploaded some to a photo forum I used to frequent. I had a person take me to task over the 7th photo, because the dancer “ruined the moment and atmosphere completely” by wearing NBA socks. I never noticed until that moment, being captivated by the young man’s dancing, which was beautiful. Public perception, it really, really has to change. Clickety for full size.














© C. Ford, all rights reserved.



Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor is one of the best things I have read in quite a while, and I’ve read a number of very good books. Ms. Okorafor’s books resonate with me in a way that many other wonderful books don’t. That’s because these works have an Indigenous mindset and outlook. They are woven. And connected. Binti not only concerns itself with the main character’s decision to leave a finely woven net of family, tradition, and the earth, there’s the contentiousness of making that decision. It not only concerns itself with aliens who aren’t very happy with humans. It concerns the thoughtlessness which drives colonial actions, even academic actions, and the consequences of such thoughtlessness. Through all of this, there are wonders, questions, and harmony. At the end, I found myself wanting more of Binti’s story, and it was with absolute joy I found out there will be another novella, early in ‘017.


In this, Binti and Okwu travel to Earth. I can’t even say how very much I look forward to more of Binti’s story, and Okwu’s too. You can explore more at



A while back, I posted about this book. At that time, I didn’t have the book yet. I have it now, and it is a wonderful read, filled with great information. Some of it made me very homesick, like the entry for Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana). The manzanita that grew in Idyllwild, Ca., is a different Arctostaphylos, but those differences are minor, and manzanita has always been used by Indigenous peoples in various ways. I love every single thing about manzanitas, and it makes me ache a little, just thinking about them. Patricia’s book includes a whole lot of plants I was not familiar with, and was not at all familiar with Indigenous uses of them. I learned a lot, and was delighted over and over again, like when I was viewing a photo of an older Indian woman wearing a pine nut apron.

The writing flows like water, and this isn’t just a story told, this is a text which provides learning, and a reference to all the wonders around us. You can order the book here, and I highly recommend it.

And Now For Something Completely Different…


Turnip Fries! Bet you weren’t expecting that. Courtesy of Wozupi Tribal Gardens:


  • Turnip wedges
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder



Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and lightly grease. Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the vegetable oil to coat. Place the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder in a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Place the oiled turnips into the bag, and shake until evenly coated with the spices. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.Bake in preheated oven until the outside is crispy, and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Labor Day Pow Wow Schedule.

Louis Campbell (Lumbee) - Photo: Vincent Schilling.

Louis Campbell (Lumbee) – Photo: Vincent Schilling.

Check out our Pow Wow listings here.

Twitter: #ICTMNWeeklyPowWowPlanner

Leech Lake Labor Day Pow Wow, September 2–4

Leech Lake Veterans Grounds next to the Palace Casino on Palace Drive

Cass Lake, MN  56633

For more information: go to or


Ashland Labor Day Pow Wow, September 2–5

Northern Cheyenne Reservation

Between Ashland & St. Labre  off U.S. 212

Ashland, MT  59003

For more information: go to


Totah Festival Pow Wow, September 3

Farmington Civic Center

200 West Arrington

Farmington, NM  87402

For more information: go to or

[Read more…]

Angela Sterritt.

Gitxan artist and CBC journalist Angela Sterritt spent five days in China creating this mural. (Angela Sterritt).

Gitxan artist and CBC journalist Angela Sterritt spent five days in China creating this mural. (Angela Sterritt).

A Gitxsan artist from British Columbia is among several artists from around the world chosen to create murals at a mountain village resort in China.

“To be able to put Gitxsan people on the map and shed light on the reality and history of Indigenous people in Canada is something I am very grateful for,” Sterritt said.

Angela Sterritt, who is also an award-winning journalist, spent five days painting her mural on a 10-seven-foot wall in a resort on Mount Longhu in Jiangxi, a province in southeast China.

She travelled to China at the invitation of Karl Schutz, a German-born Vancouver man known for establishing an acclaimed series of murals in Chemainus, B.C., in the 1980s.

Schutz, in turn, was invited to organize the mural project by Steven Liu, a well-known Chinese entertainer, who “wanted to create a global mural attraction in his artisan village,” according to Schutz.

“I found Angela’s website on line and was amazed about her powerful art … her painting is awe inspiring,” said Schutz.

Sterritt made the journey with her young son, Namawan, who also helped with the project.

The mural Sterritt painted is a re-creation of one of her existing works, called First Contact, which she says is about the resilience and strength of Indigenous women. It is a striking image is of an Indigenous woman facing the viewer, while helicopters hover behind.

“It depicts a woman whose connection and love for her community, family, the land and her culture eclipse fear instilled in us at the time of first contact,” Sterritt said.

“As a Gitxsan woman, I’ve been gifted Sip’ xw hligetdin — the strength to speak out — through my art and as a journalist. This piece speaks to Indigenous women rising from the ashes [using] what has been within her all along — her culture, in this case from the Wolf Clan, an Owl Crest and a Big Raven House.”

The full story is here. Angela Sterritt’s site.

Osage Nation Takes Over Ted Turner Ranch.

Bison on the Bluestem Ranch.

Bison on the Bluestem Ranch.

Yesterday media mogul Ted Turner officially transfered ownership of his 43,000-acre Bluestem Ranch to the Osage Nation. The tribe’s $74 million purchase restores a portion of the roughly 1.2 million acres that the tribe owned until 1906, when the reservation was allotted to individual tribal members, according to Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear. The Osage Reservation once covered the entirety of Osage County.

The Osage Nation is filing applications for federal trust status to protect the land from future sale. “We are the boss of our lands. The federal government is here to assist us,” Standing Bear told Fox 23 News.

Turner likewise intends for the land to remain under tribal ownership: “It is my sincere hope that our transaction is the last time this land is ever sold,” Turner wrote in a letter to Standing Bear, “and that the Osage Nation owns this land for all future generations.”

Turner, the founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, ran a bison-raising business during his 15-year ownership of the land. He will continue to run his bison operations in a more centralized area, primarily in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The Osage Nation plans to continue the bison business. The tribal council has additionally received at least a dozen applications already for additional proposals for the open fields, involving, fishing, hunting and more to turn a profit, while preserving the wildlife and the land. “We are trying to organize ourselves on a preservation side and the profit-making side, and also with the cattle operations to support it,” Standing Bear told Fox 23 News.

The tribe celebrated receiving the land with drums and song on Wednesday.

In a January 21 letter to Turner explaining what regaining even a small portion of the Osage’s original homelands would mean, Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear wrote:

“Until 1906 we owned nearly 1.5 million acres in one contiguous parcel of what is now Osage County. Then, our ownership was fragmented into thousands of individual parcels and the mineral estate handed over to control of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a result of these actions we now own only five percent of our original land in scattered parcels.”

I am very pleased the Osage Nation got a small portion of its land back, but it’s still distressing that it costs such an outrageous sum to get stolen property back.


Beauty Everywhere

Claudia Bicen shows the deep beauty of age, of impermanence. I’ve always had a deep and abiding love for Vanitas work, but I think there’s a tendency to show humans in vanitas only as skulls, or what detritus they may have left behind. Perhaps it’s in self defense that we skim over aging, in every day life as well as art. As an aging person, I’m all for seeing the beautiful in age, rather than looking away or being engaged in a desperate fight to fob it off. Bicen’s work is exquisite, go have a look.

Tat tvam asi - Pastel on wood block 12" x 12" - © Claudia Biçen 2013 Gauntlet Gallery, Visions & Reflections Group Exhibition (SOLD) Editor's Award - Portrait Competition 2013 -

Tat tvam asi – Pastel on wood block 12″ x 12″ – © Claudia Biçen 2013
Gauntlet Gallery, Visions & Reflections Group Exhibition (SOLD)
Editor’s Award – Portrait Competition 2013 –

The Revival of Indigenous Ink

A nice article on the revival of indigenous tattooing, by Ruth Hopkins. And yes, I have a wrist tattoo, for a lot of years now.

Due to colonization and the spread of Christianity throughout Native lands, Indigenous tattooing became taboo during the assimilation era. Even today, it’s discouraged. As a result, the practice went underground. Thankfully, genocide was unsuccessful and Native Nations remain, along with their languages, customs, belief systems, and rich heritages. As Native people begin to return to their traditional ways, we are starting to see a resurgence of the ancient art of tattooing.

. . .

Indigenous tattooing is part of who we are. As non-Native hipsters and popstars display generic dreamcatchers and Americans get so-called ‘Tribal’ tattoos on their flesh en masse, it becomes even more vital that we save the art of Indigenous body design from the brink of extinction, thereby preserving its true meaning and place in Native history so we may pass it down for generations to come.

There’s more about Indigenous ink here, about Nahaan.