Monday, September 30, 2013

Meet First Nations People Where You Live

One hot summer day while I sat at my Crow friends' camp during their tribe's celebration in Montana, a boy shared a painful truth.  Of mixed American Indian and white heritage, he told how hard it was to hear his schoolmates' ignorance about Native Americans.  Their racism hurt.

He asked me to get to know the First Nations people where I live, to create relationships.

I've begun.  While planning my new "Still Here" exhibition, I met with Ohlone Indians Andrew Galvan and Vincent Medina.  Their ancestors came to the Spanish missions in 1794 at Mission Dolores, San Francisco and a bit later at Mission San Jose in Fremont, CA.  Today, at Mission Dolores, Andrew is the first Indian curator at any of California's 21 missions, while his nephew Vincent is assistant curator.

Invited to take Vincent's tour of the Mission, I gained a new view of California Indians' role in the creation of these institutions.  Meeting Andy and Vincent at Mission San Jose, I learned how their Ohlone Indian family tree intertwines with Spanish, Mexican and U.S. history there, too.  Making portraits, hearing stories and reading Vincent's blog helps me understand Ohlones, the first people to call the East Bay home, firsthand.

To connect with Ohlone Indians:

2013 Ohlone Gathering, Oct. 6th from 10am -- 4:30pm at Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, CA
"Still Here" exhibit, Nov. 1st opening reception 6-9pm at PhotoCentral, Hayward.  Andrew and Vincent will share Ohlone culture, I'll share my experiences  photographing Native American people since 2005.  Exhibit runs through Jan. 12, 2014.