Matika Wilbur Bahazhoni Tso of the Navajo Nation poses for photographer Matika Wilbur for the Project 562, which aims to document people from the more than 562 tribal nations in the United States. The portrait and many others are displayed at the Tulalip Tribes’ Hibulb Cultural Center.

Take in ‘Wanderment’ at Hibulb center

TULALIP — Swinomish and Tulalip tribal member Matika Wilbur is still on her Project 562 journey, hoping to photograph people from each of the more than 562 tribal nations across the country.

However, Wilbur’s mid-project photo exhibition at the Hibulb Cultural Center ends soon.

Be sure to catch “Natural Wanderment: Stewardship. Sovereignty. Sacredness.” before it closes June 11 at Hibulb.

Earlier this spring, Wilbur’s exhibition “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” was displayed at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

On Thursday, Wilbur, who previously taught photography at Tulalip Heritage High School and is now a prominent voice in Indian Country, gave a keynote speech at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in San Francisco. This past October she was a keynote speaker at the National Indian Education Association conference in Portland.

The woman is on the move, sometimes by plane, most of the time in her small camper van.

Most recently her road trip took her to the Great Basin Desert in Nevada, up against California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range.

From a recent blog post by Wilbur:

“I realized that I’d driven through these places a thousand times and I’d never known what to look for. Around me was abundant desert medicine. Desert cactus flowers, pinon pine, jack rabbits, petroglyphs, songs in the wind, history in the rocks.

“We’ve believed fairy tales about the American West. Tales told that it was ‘unsettled,’ ‘uninhabited,’ ‘open for grabs.’

“But that is not the case. Out here in the Great Basin you are in Paiute Country — an abundant desert with rich culture and an indigenous history worth knowing.”

Project 562 documents contemporary American Indian identity and indigenous experience through Wilbur’s silver gelatin photographs and the recorded oral histories she is collecting. She has photographed life on poor reservations, people who work to keep the native languages alive, Indians in suits and many artists.

Wilbur, a graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography in California, had an inaugural show of her Project 562 portraits exhibited at the Tacoma Art Museum. Her work also has been shown at the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner.

“My goal is to represent Native people from every tribe,” Wilbur said in an email. “By exposing the astonishing variety of the (American) Indian presence and reality at this juncture, we will build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes and renew and inspire our national legacy.

“I do hope people will go to Hibulb before the show closes. These photos need to be seen now.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

If you go

“Natural Wanderment: Stewardship. Sovereignty. Sacredness.”

This 42-piece photographic exhibit from Matika Wilbur is displayed through June 11 at the Hibulb Cultural Center, 6410 23rd Ave. NE, Tulalip. Call 360-716-2600. More about Project 562 is at www.project562.com. To read the Herald’s story from four years ago when Wilbur was just setting out on her Project 562 journey, go to www.heraldnet.com/wilbur.

Matika Wilbur Fran James, Lummi.

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