time Navajo photographer Don James saw professional portraits of
his tribe, he sighednot in reverence, but in hopelessness.
the glossy prints, mostly depicting ceremonies and cultural icons,
failed to capture the daily life of the Navajo people.
he began his project, a yearlong journey into the Navajo Reservation,
a space occupying parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, to tell
the real stories of Navajo Nation. Equipped with only his truck,
sleeping bag, camera, and a few changes of clothes, James set off
on what would become a life- changing experience.
final work is presented in his book One Nation, One Year, and each
colorful photo is accompanied with a short explanation about the
subject, and the day and time at which it was taken. The photos
are arranged in chronological order, from February 8, 2008, the
beginning of his trip, to February 4, 2009, the day he left the
reservation. The official book release party took place last night
at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and therell be another
at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz., on July 13, from
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The book is available at major bookstores.
to gain that insiders perspective, the Albuquerque resident
put himself on a $100 per week budgetwhich would cover food,
lodging and gas. He hitchhiked around the reservation and spent
nights with his subjects. Though most people welcomed his project,
a few did not. As James told it at the book opening, he approached
his 73-year-old grandmother for a picture. She was shearing her
sheep to sell the wool at the market. Instead of praising his project,
she became annoyed and huffily demanded that he put the camera down
and come and help her with the sheep. She later cried with joy when
she saw her picture in his book.