Changing the way we see Native Americans | Matika Wilbur | TEDxTeachersCollege


This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. In 2013 Matika Wilbur took on a project of massive scope: to photograph members of each Federally recognized tribe in the United States. “My dream,” Wilbur says, “is that our children are given images that are more useful, truthful, and beautiful.”

Matika Wilbur—photographer, activist, writer, and educator—has undertaken Project 562, an endeavor of unprecedented impact and scope. Project 562 seeks to photograph every Federally recognized tribe in the United States and reveal in a brilliant spectrum of art, media, and curricula, the rich and complex twenty-first century image and reality of contemporary Native Americans. A simple, heartfelt idea informs Wilbur’s work: “By exposing the astonishing variety of the Indian presence and reality at this juncture, we will build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes, and renew and inspire our national legacy.” Wilbur embarked on Project 562 in 2013 with a meager first year budget funded by Kickstarter, driving over 60,000 miles to network throughout Native America and discover remarkable images and stories never shared before. In February 2014 Wilbur launched a second Kickstarter campaign to fund another Project 562 expedition, and after twenty days and a blitz of media coverage (including CNN and the New York Times) Project 562 surpassed its fundraising goal nearly four times over. As Wilbur sees it, “The success and visibility of Project 562 show that people want and welcome change in how Native Americans are perceived.” Wilbur is a graduate of the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, MT and the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. Her work has been shown at the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts.

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