SANTA FE —The Warrior Project has gained tremendous momentum over the last several weeks promoting its message of respecting planet Earth by and for the American Indian youth.
The Warrior Project is a photo series created and produced by actor/filmmaker/photographer team Tailinh Agoyo, Blackfeet/Narragansett, and Ryan Begay, Navajo, (warriorchildren.com). The series is a collection of images that portray indigenous children in a world where resources are becoming depleted, pollution is high and the earth is threatened. The children they photograph are nurtured in a culture where the importance of honoring and protecting the Earth is part of their DNA.
“They are budding change makers, activists, and empowered leaders. They are warriors of strength, knowledge, and ancestral power,” says Agoyo.
Both Agoyo and Begay have their own children and are striving to share stories like theirs with other youth across Indian Country. By collecting testimonials, these children’s concerns and desires for environmental justice will have a solid platform to bring awareness to audiences all over.
In a brief interview, Agoyo went in depth on the reasoning for initiating this project and its future plans:
How did this project begin? When did it officially start?
The project began late last year.
I wanted to tell a photo story from our Native children’s point of view about what the planet would be like if we continue treating her with disrespect. My son Quaye (11 years old) had the day off from school so we decided it’d be a perfect opportunity to go out and shoot. He and I brainstormed concept, props, and location together. The photos we captured that day were poignant and strong. The emotion on his face and in his eyes spoke of a threatened mother earth in a powerful and intriguing way. It was then that I knew that this project had to happen. Since then, my creative partner, Ryan Begay and I have been shooting consistently in and around New Mexico. The fundraising campaign will allow us to travel to other Native communities and to address the specific environmental concerns that they face.
Photo by Ryan Begay
Will this become a traveling photography show?
We will have an initial showing of our photo series in Santa Fe in early 2016. The images send an important message about taking action to ensure the earth is sustainable for future generations. In the next few years, we hope to travel the show throughout the world.
What advise would you give Native youth in urban cities who want to spread awareness and make local-level changes?
The first and most important thing is to practice environmental stewardship at home, at school, and at play (recycle, preserve water and electricity, etc.) and to encourage others to do so. On a community level, there are fantastic environmental advocacy programs such as Honor the Earth (honorearth.org/organize_your_community), Teens Turning Green (teensturninggreen.org) or Cycles of Life (facebook.com/CyclesofLife). The resources are out there. In large or small ways, we all have the power to make change happen.
Also this month, there are two images from The Warrior Project that will be showing at Rainmaker Gallery in the UK as part of their “Captured” show (facebook.com/RainmakerArt/photos).
To learn more and donate to their cause, visit tinyurl.com/kickstarterwarrior.