Project 562 is a multi-year national photography project dedicated to photographing over 562 federally-recognized tribes in The United States in an effort to create an unprecedented repository of imagery and oral histories that accurately portray contemporary Native Americans. This creative, consciousness-shifting work will be widely distributed through national curricula, artistic publications, exhibitions, and online portals.
We see Project 562 as the solution to historical inaccuracies, stereotypical representations and silenced Native American voices in massive-media in an effort to humanize, the otherwise “vanishing race”, and share the stories that Native Americans would like told.
In this respectful way, Project 562 has been welcomed into hundreds of tribal communities, and we've found that people support the project, because they would like to see things change. Conversations about tribal sovereignty, self-determination, wellness, recovery from historical trauma, decolonization of the mind and revitalization of culture accompany the photos in captions, video, and audio recordings.
The time of sharing, building cultural bridges, abolishing racism and honoring the legacy that this country is built on is among us. Project 562 is that platform.
In 2012 Matika Wilbur sold everything in her Seattle apartment and created Project 562 which reflects her commitment to visit, engage and photograph all 562 plus Native American sovereign territories in the United States. This project has driven her to travel hundreds of thousands of miles, many in her RV the “Big Girl” but also by horseback through the Grand Canyon, by train, plane, and boat and on foot across all 50 states. She reflects a remarkable way of being an artist in the contemporary world. Kick starter funded with a large community of online supporters, sleeping on sofas, she is welcomed and hosted by strangers who soon become friends and share the aspirations of the artist and her project. The photographs that Matika takes reflect her consummate craftsmanship. Beautiful black and white images that selectively incorporate color and showcase their subjects in vital mutualism with the lands on which they live and which they steward. But her virtuoso technique is only one aspect of the social and cultural meaning of the works. They are one product of her dynamic engagement with Native communities in which she takes the time to understand the stories and histories of particular tribes. Each particular tribe and each individual and experience which shapes entirely the way the portrait comes to be. One gets the sense that her works reflect a true partnership between artist and sitter.
-Yukio Lippit, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University