Native America exists beyond stereotypes and history books. Today, Native Americans are voicing concerns about environmental and human rights issues, shaping their own tribal communities and the future of the country.
“We Are Still Here,” a photo essay by Camille Seaman, presents portraits of contemporary Native Americans. The photographs depict Native Americans from a variety of tribes, both in traditional regalia and ordinary street clothes. Many of the photographs were taken at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannonball, North Dakota, near the Missouri River, one of the places of protest against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL). At the Oceti Sakowin camp, as well as other camps on and around the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, indigenous peoples from all over the world came together as “water protectors” in an effort to halt construction of the pipeline.
According to The New York Times, the pipeline travels under hundreds of waterways on its 1,172-mile route through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Ultimately, the protests failed to stop the pipeline, and in June 2017, oil began to flow.* Protesters advocated for a shift in values and behaviors, from consumerism to reverence for the Earth; signs were raised with the phrase “Water is life.” While the protests failed to stop the pipeline, tribal and non-tribal individuals united and brought international attention specifically to Native American culture and a deep care and connection to the Earth, including the preservation of natural resources.
Seaman’s photo essay is a part of a long-term project, “We Are Still Here—All My Relations: A Native America Portrait Project.” The project aims to document Native American tribes throughout the United States; there are approximately 573 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. Seaman was raised within the Shinnecock Montaukett tribe of her father near the eastern end of Long Island, New York.
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.11-12.1.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.9.9-12. Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Psy.2.9-12. Investigate human behavior from biological, cognitive, and sociocultural perspectives.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.
Next Generation Science Standards. HS-LS2-8. Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior and individual and species' chances to survive and reproduce.