Project Update (Just In Case You Missed the Best of 2016)

What Up 2017

With 2017 well underway, we at Project 562 would like to raise our hands to all of our friends, relatives, and ardent supporters who made the past year possible! And what an extraordinary, startling, and unbelievable year it was. Never have we felt a higher and stronger need for light, love and positivity, and never have we felt more committed to our work. It is indeed the work that serves as the greatest driving force, an energy that is self-renewing and inexhaustible.

We are so proud of Project 562’s journeys and activities in 2016; here’s a recap of some of our most memorable moments:

We stood in solidarity with our Hunkpapa relatives at Standing Rock to protect their land from the poisonous black snake known as The Dakota Access Pipeline. Our North Dakota relatives were joined by hundreds of sovereign Native nations, environmentalists, activists, and legal advocates in unprecedented unity against the thoughtless onslaught against our Mother Earth.

Despite the completely peaceful approach of those standing against the pipeline, we witnessed hired DAPL security officers violently attack our women, children and protectors with dogs.

While at the Sacred Stone Camp, we wrote about the pipeline in two blog posts:

“Still Native Land: Understanding The Movement at Standing Rock”

“We Are Not Protestors, We Are Protectors: Peace, Prayer, Love and War at Standing Rock Sioux”

We witnessed decolonization and solidarity in action when over a dozen canoes launched into the Missouri River from Bismarck headed for Sacred Stone Camp. Some canoe families and crews had traveled over 3,000 miles to be there. The grandfathers smiled on and encouraged us with rain, thunder, and even a little bit of hail! It was an honor to witness such an amazing event, and we offered a short film in tribute:

Standing Rock’s protectors were steadfast as winter stormed into the Dakotas, and even as the heartless repression from private and public hired guns intensified. But the protectors’ faith and efforts were vindicated with a decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to halt construction of the black snake.

Although the next part of the struggle is uncertain under the new administration in D.C., the commitment to protect the sacred waters and lands of Standing Rock and throughout Turtle Island is unwavering and expanding.

Stand with Standing Rock Now by Submitting a Public Comment

Uncovering Injustice in Indian Country

2016 was so racially-charged for the nation, as Native children well understand…

As the presidential election came to a climax, Matika was in a November speaking tour throughout the country, visiting 14 colleges and universities in 31 days. She describes the harrowing experience of the Republican victory in the blog post:

“Students Pledge To Protect Each Other Post Trump”

Momentum and Partnerships

As momentous change and conflicting realities have rocked the nation, Project 562 has maintained its mission, to change the way we see Native America, and built tremendous momentum and relationships. We gratefully and with joy would like to share some of our great progress and partnerships with you.

Project 562 opened a beautiful exhibition titled “Seeds Of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute in April.

Photographing Native American Cultures - The Harvard Gazette

Then, in November the exhibition traveled to The Kellogg Foundation while Project 562 made it’s European debut at the Galerie Nativ in Prague.

Meet Our New Project 562 Coordinator, Elisa Law

We hired Elisa as Coordinator! (Project Code name: Tasty Crumpet)

Since joining the team last summer, Elisa Law has driven the Big Girl cross country with us three times, stood in solidarity at Standing Rock with us twice, pulled with us the longest stretch of the canoe journey, acted as Project 562 DJ and hype woman for our speaking engagements and has answered approximately 27 billion emails. If she were a snack, she’d be a satisfying crumpet with Amish butter and homemade raspberry jelly. And since all things relate back to tasty treats, I do think that is the best way to describe her.

Before coming on board with us, Elisa most recently wrote and designed the internationally traveling exhibition and book Unsettled~Resettled: Seattle’s Hunt Hotel to raise awareness of the post World War II resettlement struggles of wrongfully incarcerated Japanese Americans.

With a Masters Degree in Museum Studies and International Development from the University of Washington, Elisa has sought to combine her passion for cultural heritage management and sustainability. She has realized this through several contemporary art and history exhibits around the Seattle area and through her previous work in the Pacific Islands centered around clean water access, youth education through traditional storytelling, and sustainable cultural tourism.

Launch of Project 562 Internship Project

Left: Meet Hanaila Starks

“Matika came to Whitworth University last November to lecture about the “25 Lessons on the Indian Roads”. A friend of mine was required to go, so I went to keep her company. Attending the lecture was completely spontaneous, so I was pleasantly overjoyed when Matika told the stories of the people she met and her mission to share Native culture throughout the States. I took the leap to apply for an internship, because I was so inspired by the advocacy that Project 562 projects.”

Hanaila is a Sophomore at Whitworth University, majoring in Business Management with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She is currently in the Women’s Choir and Hawaiian Club at her school and enjoys music, traveling, and food. Through her membership with Kaleinani O Ke Kukui, she has been a part of Clark College’s annual festival “Educating for the Seventh Generation”, a celebration of indigenous cultures that broadcasts the teaching and dances of Hawaiian and Native cultures. Through this Polynesian organization, she has been able to support and share her culture with local Native tribes and programs in Vancouver, WA.

Right: Meet Joey Montoya

“I first heard about Project 562 roughly in 2013 via Social Media. As I researched more about the project I became really interested in the importance of documenting, reclaiming, and telling our history and stories through a Native lens. Since then I have been finding ways to do digital storytelling as well as capturing the rich history of our elders.”

Joey is Lipan Apache from Texas, but was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. He started his own company, Urban Native Era, to reclaim who we are as Indigenous people of the 21st century by showcasing not only our culture, but an effort to highlight the range of issues Indigenous people face today. Joey attends San Jose State University where he founded the Native American Student Organization (N.A.S.O.). In his time at SJSU he discovered his passion for art and is studying graphic design and advertising. He now lives in San Jose, CA where he continues to tell good stories to anyone willing to listen. Follow Joey at @UrbanNativeEra.

Where is Project 562 Going Next?

Project 562 is thrilled to be going back to Cali to visit and photograph rad, inspiring Natives from January to September of this year (spoiler alert, we have some really big news to announce very soon about California, so please stay tuned). We’ll be in Big Lagoon, Blue Lake, Lytton and Graton this week and next. Please send us your suggestions of people to visit.

Connect with Project 562

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions:

Protect the Sacred: Native Artists for Standing Rock at Spaceworks Gallery

Natural Wanderment Selection at South Puget Sound Community College

Seeds of Culture Selection at Pepperdine University

Upcoming Speaking Engagements:

South Puget Sound Community College, February 21, 2017

W. David Baird Distinguished Lecture Series at Pepperdine University March 21, 2017

International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health, March 31, 2017

St Norbert College, April 7, 2017

North Puget Sound Conference on Race, April 22, 2017

In Closing

Project 562 will remain true to its original intention to “change the way we see Native America”. We believe that by telling true stories about the first people of this land, by advocating for Native America, we are advocating for something sacred. Despite this new administration’s blatant disregard for America’s first people, we will remain true to our original cause. We know that love is stronger than hate. So we say to all of you, our love, truth and prayers are always with you.

P.S. The spirit of the resistance is strong. On January 21, 2017, we were proud to be in Eureka as indigenous women marched alongside five-fingered-beings from every background. We will continue to stand for our Mother Earth.