I’m a professional artist working as a writer, photographer, and classically trained musician/composer. Over the thirty-plus years of my career, my interest has been in the integration of these disciplines in various forms. The last ten years, I have been concentrating on the relationship between narrative and the Black and White image—specifically through portraiture and oral history. I find personal narratives from “ordinary” people remarkable not only as historical documents but as literature. The black and white portrait as “character study” is without parallel in visual art. I have published two books in this vein; “Carnation Verbatim—A Snoqualmie Valley Memoir” and “Saving the Soil—The New American Farmer”, both from Tolt River Press.
The subject of my current project and this campaign involves my relationship with the Northern Cheyenne people in eastern Montana which began in 1972. I made my first journey to the reservation with the hope of making portraits of Cheyenne Elders and recording their life stories. My experiences from that period are recorded in my memoir, “The Road to Lame Deer”, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2001. The complexities of reservation life and other complications prevented me from recording any stories but I did make a series of portraits which are published in my memoir.
In May, 2012, the Chief Dull Knife College, Lame Deer, MT invited me to photograph and record the oral histories of as many of the current group of Cheyenne Elders as possible. Funding only permitted making records of 28 individuals—portraits and audio recordings. This campaign is my effort to raise the necessary funds to transcribe and publish the stories and photographs in book form. The final product will be an oversized (9” X 12”) fine art coffee table book, cloth, dust cover, 220 pp., in an edition of 500 copies.
This is a ‘not for profit’ project. As a reaction to the long history of cultural genocide by attrition that the Cheyenne and Native people generally have suffered, this book will make a significant contribution to the Cheyenne People’s ongoing effort to preserve their history and heritage. Each of the life stories recorded provides a unique, untold record of life on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in the last half of the 20th Century. If these stories are lost, they, like so many past accounts, will be relegated to the oblivion of forgotten cultures and yet another representation of human nature will disappear forever.
Your contribution is more than philanthropy—it is a contribution to the knowledge base of world culture. Finally, this will enable the Elders recorded in the project to preserve their stories for their children, grandchildren, and their extended family—the Cheyenne Nation. The books will be available for libraries, Native Colleges and other educational institutions. Contributors, of course, will have access to the material through the various contributor “perks”.
I am requesting a minimum of $35,000.00 for this project.
First of all, funding will guarantee a prepublication payment of at least $500.00 for each Elder (28 storytellers--$14000.00 total). Images and stories from Native Americans have been taken, along with sacred artifacts, for decades always to profit non-Indians without permission and without any payment or royalties. This will prevent that injustice and, with the addition of individual copyright protection, will safeguard the stories for the heirs of each person recorded.
Second, $10,000.00 will go to me for my labor in overseeing the transcriptions of the stories, design and layout of the book, and securing the printing process and delivery to the Chief Dull Knife College Cultural Center.
Third, $2000 will be used for transcription services.
Fourth, $9000 will be used for printing, binding and shipping. If the project is overfunded, the extra funds will be divided equally among the contributing Elders.
All contributors will have their names (unless they would prefer otherwise) printed in the list of contributors published in the book. Other “perks” will include photographic prints from the publication and my Cheyenne portfolio, a limited number of signed books and CDs of selected life stories as well as a very limited number of the full collection. Please consult the list of benefits for complete details. Bear in mind that this is a limited, 1st edition of 500 books and will not be commercially available.
I and the Northern Cheyenne Elders, Chief Dull Knife College, and the Cultural Center thank you for your help. We encourage you to tell your friends about this project and Indiegogo. Your contribution has furthered our efforts to sustain Cheyenne Culture for future generations.