About Project 562
Last December, I sold everything in my Seattle apartment, packed a few essentials into my war pony, and hit the open road. Since then, I’ve been embarking on an epic adventure: Project 562.
For the past year I have been fulfilling the project’s goal of photographing citizens of each federally recognized tribe in the United States (there are now 566). Most of the time, I’ve been invited to geographically remote reservations to take portraits and hear stories from a myriad of tribes, while at other times I've photographed members of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings. My hope, is that when the project is complete, it will serve to educate the nation and shift the collective consciousness toward recognizing our own indigenous communities.
Imagine walking through an exhibit and realizing the complex variety of contemporary Native America. Imagine experiencing a website or book, that offered insight into every Tribal Nation in the United States. What if you could download previously untold histories and stories from Apaches, Swinomish, Hualapai, Northern Cheyenne, Tlingit, Pomo, Lumbee, and other first peoples? What if you had heard those stories in grade school?
Project 562 is making all this happen.
With Your Support
This is Project 562's second Kickstarter campaign for critical funding for our second year on the road. Your help covering the ongoing expenses for transportation, film, administration, lodging, and meals will keep Project 562 strong and on target.
We are delighted to offer wonderful "reward" items for this year's Kickstarter. We've partnered with noted Native American fashion designer and artist Bethany Yellowtail for limited edition couture pieces along with original sweatshirts, spirit tees, sweater dresses, and Project 562 posters.We hope you’ll be as pleased as we are with these unique, attractive acknowledgements of your support.
Project 562 Poster
Official 11x14 Project 562 Poster, featuring Darkfeather, Eckos and Bibiana Ancetta from the Tulalip Tribe.
Official Team Spirit Tee of Project 562
The Spirit Tee's offer original Project 562 photographs and are available in size s-xl. Contributors are be able to choose one of three options:
Mens Hoodie and Project 562 T-Shirt
562 Ladies Hoodie
In true Matika fashion, we’re offering you a sweatshirt that you can rock with boots (it’s not just a hoodie, it’s a dress). Offered in turquoise and grey. One size only.
B. Yellowtail for Project 562
Bethany Yellowtail, fashion designer, stylist, and motivational speaker from the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribe has partnered with us to assist in fundraising efforts for Project 562. In this very exciting collaboration, Yellowtail has transformed Project 562 photography into one-of-a-kind textile prints. She has created three, limited edition couture pieces that will serve as gifts to the generous contributors of Project562:
Yellowtail Shift Dress
This original photographic silky textile by Matika Wilbur has been transformed by B.Yellowtail into a luxurious, dainty shift dress. Available in peach or cream, size xs-xxl.
All Our Relations Crew Neck
Designed by B.Yellowtail, this “vegan” leather crew neck represents the Tribal Nations that Matika will visit; a walking dedication to all of our relations. Available in xs-xxl.
"Paddle To Quinalt" Dress
B.Yellowtail Kaftan featuring Matika Wilbur Photography from the 2013 Canoe Journey. This elegant, hand beaded dress, showcases Quinalt women dancing on the shores of the Olympic Coast in Washington State, welcoming Canoe’s from several Tribal Nations. Available in xs-xxl.
Why Project 562
Project 562 creatively addresses and remedies historical inaccuracies, stereotypical representations, and the absence of Native American images and voices in mass media and the national consciousness. I believe that there is an open space that is yet to be filled- that space is authentic images and stories from within Native America. My work aims to humanize, the otherwise “vanishing race”, and share the stories that our people would like told. In this respectful way, I have been welcomed into hundreds of tribal communities, and I have found that people welcome Project 562, because they are ready to see things change. Conversations about tribal sovereignty, self-determination, wellness, recovery from historical trauma, and revitalization of culture will accompany the photos in captions, video, and audio recordings.
The time of sharing, building cultural bridges, abolishing racism and honoring the legacy that this country is built on is among us. Project 562 is that platform.
Matika Discusses Project 562 at TED
Watch Our Road Stories
Project 562 in The Media
- NBC: Native American Travels Across U.S. Photographing Citizens of Tribal Nations
- Seattle's Stranger: Shooting and Capturing: Matika Wilbur's Fierce Fight Against A Hundred Years of Native American Photography
- Fusion: You've Never Seen Native America Like This
- Indian Country Today: Photographer Matika Wilbur's Three Year, 562 Tribe Adventure
Become A Project 562 Ambassador
The Project 562 Team is currently looking for Ambassadors that can assist with important tasks, including 2014 fundraising efforts; social media outreach; general outreach to tribal communities; educational lecture series outreach; and media outreach. We are also seeking new Interns for 2014.If you are interested in volunteering, or in applying to our intern program, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matika will be visiting a community near you. In advance she is humbly seeking your guidance, input, and involvement in this very important and timely project. Matika would like to photograph elders, culture bearers, community leaders, artists, storytellers, and youth. If you would like to recommend someone to be photographed in your community, please email: email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
The last year has shown risks and challenges that I couldn't have anticipated: First, the RV that I secured turned out to be a leaky disaster, so I had to take my two-seater Honda instead (funny thing, RV dealers won't lend to artists without a "real job"). Then, after two months on the road, my bestie/companion/assistant decided that "road life" wasn't for her (I completely get it, sleeping on people's couches isn't glamorous, and I love her for coming at all). Nonetheless, I had to find the courage to forge the road alone.
And even though I consider myself a Road Warrior, the road has worn on my spirit, and the constancy of travel has required an endurance that I didn't know that I was capable of. I have found a new strength; I didn't realize that all of the work I’ve done in the past (photo school, commercial photographer, international journalist, at-risk tribal youth teacher and visual literacy professor) would lead to Project 562, but without the accumulation of those experiences, I wouldn’t have the strength, knowledge, and courage to plunge onward into a multi-year national photography project.
I have to tell you, I didn't anticipate that I would need to do a second fundraising campaign. I believed that if I applied for enough grants, one of them would say yes. Over the last year, I applied for 26 artists grants, even though I did receive 4 of them (thank-you), I was told by the others that, "I am a risky investment". Grantors see Project 562 as an improbable feat, and institutions don't want to give their money to risky artists.
That being said, I want you to know that I am progressing mightily despite institutional disbelief. I have been inspired by the “kindness of strangers” I have encountered. I have been motivated by the hope and light I see in the eyes of students and other youth I speak with. I have been rejuvenated by the kindness of the stranger's that I have encountered. I have been restored by the hope that I see in the eyes of students that I speak with.
I had this incredible experience at the bottom of The Grand Canyon. The elders appointed a teenage boy to help me carry my equipment to photo shoots (since there aren't cars down there, and I'm clumsy on a horse). He was kind of quiet at first, standoffish even. But after the first interview and photoshoot, he was excited for the next one. He started suggesting ideas. I could see him listening as we spoke to his elders. That evening, he revealed that he had walked a despairing path, having struggled with depression and his own sense of Tribal identity. As I was leaving, he shyly pulled me aside, and told me that this project gave him a new sense of hope. He said that he believed in me. He said that I was the first lady that he'd ever met that had went on to "do something". He thanked me for giving him hope. He said that his experience with Project 562 had meant more to him than he could articulate.
I repeatedly have experiences like the one in the Grand Canyon. Those experiences give me the strength to keep going; I genuinely believe that Project 562 will help to shift our collective consciousnesses toward respectfully recognizing the beauty of contemporary Native America.
I know challenges lie ahead (and many, many miles), but I feel blessed with spirit and armed with the skills and tools to tackle them, whatever they may be. Your faith and help are all important. T'igwicid.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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