Jennifer & Family
It was the third and final day of the 33rd annual Gathering of Nations (GON) in Albuquerque, New Mexico; North America's largest PowWow and Native American competition featuring Indian singing and dancing and a celebration of Native culture. Later in the evening, Miss Indian World 2016 would be crowned following a pageant that featured tribal knowledge, dance and personality competitions.
Everyone is welcome at GON, but most of the thousands who attend are tribes-people from First Nations dispersed throughout North America. Participants and attendees travel into Albuquerque with friends and family and unite inside and outside UNM's WisePies Arena, aka The Pit.
Many attendees break from the PowWow and venture to nearby city destinations with their families. At the ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden, one such family was taking advantage of the fresh air, open space, spring greenery and shaded areas. That's where I met family matriarch, Jennifer, who began with me as 88/100 strangers for my 100 Strangers project.
Jennifer's colorful headband with a lightning-bolt, chevron-pattern initially attracted my attention. She was sitting on a bench with her husband, and they were looking at and discussing some printed matter; possibly the Biopark site map. I introduced myself to her and she agreed to be photographed both alone, and with her family.
Jennifer and her family are members of the Navajo tribe. They drove in from Arizona and had already been to the GON PowWow earlier in the day. Jennifer said they lived near the Four Corners in Rock Land. On a map of the Navajo Nation I can't find this destination, although within the general area she described I did pinpoint a Rock Point, and Round Rock. Either my phone's note taking app auto-corrected her village name, or perhaps she had translated to me from Diné Bizaad, her Navajo language.
Jennifer's individual portrait flic.kr/p/GJNkzP offers you a closeup of this patient, lovely woman. When her husband and two of her daughters joined her for the family portrait, I noticed that the girls wore outfits with colors pulled out of Jennifer's patterned skirt. The color coordination strengthened their visual connection; not just the resemblance of mother and father. A son and a toddler, who were both working down ice-cream cones, resisted father's efforts to pile onto the bench to be included.
As most of you have probably experienced, it's no cakewalk making a group portrait that includes little children; where everyone holds still and faces the camera. I was plussed when the pink shirted little girl with the large blue flower sat still while facing the camera and I caught it. The oldest child sitting at Jennifer's left took the gig most seriously. At 11 years old, she is the same age as my son who held up the light reflector. She never moved a muscle nor changed her facial expression through several iterations of the group portraits.
When the picture taking was completed I revealed the best shots to Jennifer from the reverse of my camera and she liked them. We exchanged email so I could send her the photographs. I thanked her for the chance to photograph her and her family, wished them a safe return home, and then we parted.
This is my 18th submission to The Human Family group. You can explore my cataloged portraits here flic.kr/s/aHskiVFBfm.
Find out more about The Human Family group project and see pictures taken by other photographers at flic.kr/g/rvfDx
Cultural Note: Live remote broadcasts from GON were simulcast on KUNM-FM 89.9 over the two days of the PowWow. If you search the radio station's online archive in the next two weeks, you might find some material. Use search dates of April 28-30, 2016, here: kunm.org/two-week-archive#stream/0 (.)