Strong Hearts: Native American Visions and Voices
edited by Peggy Roalf
text by Robert Davis, Theresa Harlan, Linda Hogan, James Luna, N. Scott Momaday, Jolene Rickard, Leslie Marmon Silko, Paul Chaat Smith, Luci Tapahonso, James Welch & Robert Willard, Jr.
4to. pp. 120. colour & b/w illustrations. hardcover. dw. (near fine). New York: Aperature, .
ISBN-10: 089381637X / ISBN-13: 9780893816377
This kaleidoscopic range of photographs--the first comprehensive collection of contemporary Native American photography--explores Native American Indian culture from within. The photographers here image a world that, until recently, has been depicted almost exclusively by non-Native people.
In Strong Hearts, popular visions of American Indians are challenged by artists and writers for whom self-representation is often as much a political as an artistic statement. For example: the darkly emotional scenes staged by Carm Little Turtle; Larry McNeil's metaphorical images of eagle feathers; Zig Jackson's satirical pictures of tourists photographing Indians; Maggie Steber's intimate portrayal of the Wildcat family; images of joy and of pain captured by the children in the "Shooting Back from the Reservation" project; and Jeffrey Thomas's close-up portraits of traditional powwow dancers.
Three distinguished authors write about the struggle to overturn stereotyped perceptions of Native Americans. Paul Chaat Smith, cultural critic and writer, compares the nineteenth-century arms race that nearly wiped out his Comanche ancestors to the ways in which the camera has been used to form unyielding perceptions of Native people. Theresa Harlan, curator at the C.N. Gorman Museum, tells how constructed mythologies about Native people threaten not only their cultures but their very survival. Photographer and educator Jolene Rickard regards contemporary Native image-making as "documents of our sovereignty, both politically and spiritually." In their essays, all three show how the photographers in Strong Hearts use the camera to represent Native American people today.
One hundred twenty-five images by thirty-four Native American photographers are complemented by poetry that echoes ancient story-telling traditions. From an anonymous Swampy Cree poem capturing the forces of Nature to Luci Tapahonso's narrative "Raisin Eyes"--a humorous, clear-eyed picture of modern love--this collection reveals enduring traditions central to Native American literature.
Strong Hearts: Native American Visions and Voices offers rare insight into complex questions of personal identity, race, politics, family, and society. Strong Hearts will stimulate real cultural exchange for a long time to come, as it conveys the experiences and insights of American Indian artists and writers defining their cultures today.