Just two hundred years ago, the landscape of the western half of the United States was not as it is today. Easterners had not widely interrupted life on the Plains, and Native Americans were living mostly within their ancestors' cultures, which had adapted to and been entwined with the land for over one hundred centuries. Over the next two, a wave of European immigrants would do their best to drown that culture, molding the landscape to serve themselves. In the fury of Manifest Destiny, these pioneers often veiled their racism as a righteous quest for a better life.
To this day, Native populations are mending the scabs left by the oppression of white, European culture, which is also my culture. This project reckons with our violent legacy of colonialism on the Plains. Through the work I grapple with my history, my family's history, and my culture's history. The viewer is forced to do the same.
Despite the existence and historical significance of the objects I photograph, the style of the photos makes the images appear surreal, as if in a dream. This contradiction forces a viewer from my culture to confront his or her nostalgic notions about our ancestors and their roles in the attempted erasure of Native culture. The otherworldly and saturated style can also be seen as an exaggerated statement about how our culture depicts elements of the United States' westward expansion: pioneer spirit as something valiant, and Native Americans as a people of the past.