Holamooki, which translates to "shades of red war paint" in my language (Shawnee), is an ongoing photographic documentary project begun in the summer of 2018.
In my process of learning about my cultural heritage while coming into my own queerness some years ago, I began to understand that, while not ubiquitous, many pre-colonial Native communities did not share the western and Christian rejection of third genders and queer romance. I want to delve into this as a concept that many tribal members are reclaiming, and even those without traditional third gender roles are carving space for in their role as contemporary Indigenous people. Many outsiders are also learning about the term "two spirit" and more and more non-Natives are appropriating the phrase without any cultural understanding. This misuse is harmful to our cultures and sovereignty.
Convenient secondary aims of this work are to generate understanding that First Nations people around North America look as unique as the hundreds and hundreds of individual tribal nations we represent; especially in an ever globalizing world we cannot be pigeon holed into looking, acting or feeling one stereotypical way, and I also want to honor the lands and sacred sites our ancestors have called home reaching back 500 to 12,000 years.
This body of work is being created to document, create positive representation for and thereby uplift the Native LQBTQIA2S community at large. I aim to create a body of work that rejects colonial, stereotypical and appropriative narratives, and illustrates instead the vibrant and far reaching network that we have built for ourselves in spite of the world that has grown up around us post-contact. The audience is two-fold - both for us by us, but also just as helpful as an educational tool to non-Natives that we will continue to refuse to fit your preconceptions. Niyaawe.
If you would like to participate in this project, please email me at email@example.com.