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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

We are still here: A visual celebration of Indigenous resilience

We+are+still+here%3A+A+visual+celebration+of+Indigenous+resilience
Photo by Clarissa Friday

 NDEZHNEKAS JIGWEKWE. BODWÉWDMI NDAW, meaning “My name is Thunder Woman. I am Potawatomi.” My birth name is Clarissa Friday. I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter and photographer. Family is the core of who I am.

In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Month, my work will be displayed in the Create Gallery here at MATC in an exhibit titled “We Are Still Here,” which runs now through the end of the semester. This collection serves as a poignant testament to the enduring presence of Native Americans, dispelling the erroneous notion that our rich heritage is a relic of the past. It underscores the resilience woven into the fabric of indigenous communities, a resilience that transcends historical challenges to assert our vibrant existence in the contemporary landscape. 

Our ability to steadfastly maintain our cultural identity speaks volumes to the indomitable spirit of Native Americans. Through the lens of my art, I strive to capture the strength, beauty, and dynamism of a people whose narratives are often marginalized or misrepresented. 

It is crucial to acknowledge that my collection of photography was a collaborative effort. The images I captured draw from the collective strength of the indigenous community and the efforts of people who refuse to be relegated to history books. The regalia depicted in these images are not mere costumes but profound and personal works of art, each intricately crafted and laden by artisans. Each piece was crafted by the individuals in these photographs or was gifted to them by their families and other dancers within powwow circles. 

These regalia embody the living traditions that persist and flourish within Native communities. In ‘We Are Still Here,’ I aim to honor and amplify these voices, weaving a visual narrative that celebrates the resilience, diversity, and enduring spirit of indigenous culture. 

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