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March 8, 2023: Matika Wilbur to Present at Whitman Next Month

Feature by John Johnson, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion:

Matika Wilbur will be visiting Whitman as part of the Third Space Speaker Series on April 19th.

Matika Wilbur is a critically acclaimed social documentarian and photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington. Matika has offered more than 300 keynotes at such places as Harvard, Yale, Berkeley and Google. Matika is a regular contributor to the New York Times and co-hosts the “All My Relations” podcast with Adrienne Keene, Ed.D., a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Some of Matika’s work is currently being featured at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.

Her interactive installation “The Salmon People” honors the Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest and urges audiences to consider the human impacts on salmon habitat and climate change.

In 2012, Wilbur sold everything in her Seattle apartment and set out on a Kickstarter-funded pursuit to visit, engage and photograph people from what were then the 562 federally recognized Native American sovereign territories of the United States. Over the next decade, she traveled six hundred thousand miles across fifty states to meet, interview and photograph hundreds of Indigenous people. The culmination of this decade-long art and storytelling endeavor is Project 562, a peerless, sweeping and moving love letter to Indigenous Americans, containing hundreds of stunning portraits and compelling personal narratives of contemporary Native people—all photographed in clothing, poses and locations of their choosing. Their narratives touch on personal and cultural identity as well as issues of media representation, sovereignty, faith, family, the protection of sacred sites, subsistence living, traditional knowledge-keeping, land stewardship, language preservation, advocacy, education, the arts and more.

The body of work Wilbur has created serves to counteract the one-dimensional and archaic stereotypes of Native people in mainstream media and offers justice to the richness, diversity and lived experiences of Indian Country. The Project 562 book is scheduled for release on April 25th (pre-orders available here).

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