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***********This photo-book is dedicated to all Native American Indians and my late step father John D. Ross III Esquire.***********
When I think of the word "Native" I think of original. I think of a special kind of ownership that is coupled with belonging. There is a value to Native American Indian history that brings a nostalgia to people in a very spiritual and seductive way. A value of recognition and respect that is being forgotten and lost. "Out of sight out of mind". The worst part is that its happening where it all began, on Native American Soil. I am producing a black and white fine art photo book of Native Americans nationwide, capturing images of their beauty and history. It is my passionate desire to keep the young and the non-native informed of this history.
In this book I am allowing the pictures to speak for themselves. I hope that my work cast a light through my own filter that engages you on a spiritual level.
What inspired me to make "NATIVE"
Thirty two years ago John D. Ross III aka "Jack" or "Paw" (his given native name) came into my life. He was a lawyer for the United States Government and fought against Indian rights. Within a very short year his role would change drastically. He quit the firm that was against the Native Americans and reversed his defense.
Paw moved from Washington D.C. to Pocatello, Idaho, which is the closest "biggest" city to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. That's where he would start to fight and win big for the Natives. He helped render their rights for water (Hence the nickname "Paw", it stands for water in Shoshone/Bannock) and bartered legal council for trade. After leaving a valuable footprint in Southeastern Idaho he and his longtime partner Howard Funke moved their firm to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where they would fight for the Coeur d'Alene Indian water rights.
He always instructed my twin, myself, and my half brothers and sisters to RESPECT the law and RESPECT Mother Earth. To be honest the law part was hard for me to get down but for pure and undeniable reasons I totally got the whole "Mother Earth" vision down quickly. I ultimately learned to respect all that had physical matter.
Because Paw was severely ill and meant so much to the Natives, they held a literal "Sunrise" healing circle (extremely rare for the white man) for him on July 3, 2012 the anniversary of their 1868 Fort Bridger Treaty . It was the most sacred and special moment of my life that I would ever share with Paw and family. The Natives even extended their healing to my severely disabled daughter Madison. While their drums beat each beat with an increasingly louder thump and as their vivacious voices, howled and cried, the sun burst out over the mountain range, leaving myself drenched in tears while trying to manage the feeling of pure ecstasy that pierced my soul! Afterwards the Native's blessed Paw and Madison with their fire, smoke, prayers and native tongue.
Paw would make his final transition several months later and our daughter Madison would graduate Trinity Hospice Placement and continue to beat the heavily stacked odds against her. Perhaps Paw transferred his healing to Madison?
Paw was priceless to these tribes, because of his passion and beliefs which in turn had a profound affect on me from a young age. A passionate step-father, a connection to the tribes and a thirst for understanding is all I need for inspiration to produce this photo book.
Aside from my personal attachment to this book and as a token of appreciation to my late step father for teaching me the way of Mother Earth, I intend to embrace this book as an expression of fine art representing present Native American strength and history. A reminder of where America's roots come from. A reminder that Natives live strong today and to show the beauty that they still embrace, which will be shown through my interpretation.
I'm hoping that the photo book will be in 16:9 ratio for a cinematic feel. I'm planning for up to (unknown amount of pages). The working title is "Native" by Ash Waters. Each page will consist of REAL members from different tribes and the location will be in their home land. Be it California, Idaho or Florida. Each page will be preceded by an info page of what tribe and territory as well as a fun fact. Truly a fine art monochrome presentation with the perception and flare of Ash Waters AKA Ashley Holbrook.
October 12, 2013 while attending the San Manuel "Band of Mission Indian's" Powwow, I ran into an elder, whom I have been trying to convince to be a part of this book since the beginning of the 2013 Powwow Circuit. The well received conversation we had brought me to tears and made me feel free in spirit in less than 40 min. I'm in awe of him. He is so interesting and fierce. Tonight he was at his best with me. We spoke intensely about Mother Earth and our connection with ALL humans as well as love, (which is where my emotions started to flare), and as perfect timing would have it, we touched on "Columbus Day" and "Thanksgiving". We also spoke about the confusion being displayed by a lot of the young Native's hearts. I think my passion has finally impressed him to open up to me, like he did that evening. He even disclosed to me his health issues which medical professionals have advised him that his demise was soon, He showed me how immensely proud he was that the "Arena" (The designated area for dance and song) was his secret to survival.
As I started to tell him my observation of how the young Native Americans seemed to be more interested in "Air Jordan's", "BLING" or "Video Game's" than tradition, and how they too were being so domesticated that tradition's like bead work or ceremonies or what have you, was being snuffed out. He locked on to me with his captivating and intense brown eyes, nodded in affirmation and told me that he had a grand son age 22 (from NY) that had never been to a Powwow. (Hard to fathom right?) The elder took him to his first Powwow and the boy felt compelled to get into the arena. While in the arena he began to weep. He later asked his grandpa why he was so emotional and his grandfather simply smiled at the boy. That young boy hasn't missed a Powwow since... (That is where I cried, in case you were wondering why, exactly).
There is a connection that is innate in all of us. It is Mother Earth. That innate feeling is what that boy felt so powerfully, in the arena. A feeling or a natural compass if you will, that can easily be buried through domestication.
That night only affirmed that my passion was real and on target. It solidified my reasons to make this book happen: it is educating, it is liberating, it is necessary. The elder granted me permission to shoot him. I only hope I make it to him in time. His name is Duane Whitehorse descendant of Chief Whitehorse of the Kiowa tribe, Oklahoma.
Whitehorse made me feel "free" because he had a way of convincing me to not worry too much and reminded me that even the best will ride the last horse into our final transition from this life. I only hope my horse is as white as his...
Map of Travel
I will travel and shoot members of up to 25 tribes in America. Tribal articles are already being written about my journey and our book "NATIVE". That's pretty EXCITING!!!
(Possible) LIST OF TRIBES SLATED TO SHOOT BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
NAVAJO- Phoenix, AZ
PUEBLO- Acomita, NM
PAWNEE- Pawnee, OK
COUSHATTA- Livingston, TX
HOUMA- Golden Meadow, LA
CHOCKTAW- Chocktaw, MS
CREEK- Atmore, AL
SEMINOLE- Hollywood, FL
CHEROKEE- Cherokee, NC
MASHANTUCKET PEQUOT- Mashantucket, CT
WANPANOAG- Aquinnah, MA
PENOBSCOT- Old Town, ME
MOHAWK- Akweasne, NY
- Fulton, MI
MOHICAN- Bowler, WI
ARIKARA- New Town, ND
SIOUX- Wolf Point, MT
SHOSHONE- Fort Hall, ID
COEUR d'ALENE- Coeur d'Alene, ID
NEZ PERCE- Lapwai, ID
S'KLALLAM- Kingston, WA
COOS- Coos Bay, OR
POMO- Redwood Valley, CA
PAIUTE- Bridgeport, CA
(LIST SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
*IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING FOR ANY TRIBE IN AMERICA, PLEASE FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW AND PRESS SUBMIT.*