Legacy of Exiled NDNz examines American Indians living in urban America, in this case, Los Angeles, California. My project focuses on young adults (from various tribes: Navajo, Cherokee, Seminole, Barona Bands of Mission Indians and Lakota. ) who have migrated from their reservations in the course of their own lives or are the offspring of families that relocated from various tribal reservations through the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Relocation program, which took place during the late 1950s through the 1960s. This photo/film project showcase young adults of today paying “tribute” to the first generation of Relocated (exiled) Indians.
This project is influenced by The Exiles (1961), a film that was written, produced, and directed by Kent Mackenzie. Mackenzie was the only filmmaker at that time that documented ‘realistic’ imagery of American Indian going through the BIA, U.S. government Relocation Program. The program encouraged Relocation of Indians for the following reason: First, it wanted to decrease subsidies given to Indians living on reservations, even though those subsidies were granted in exchange for lands ceded during treaty negotiations. Second, it wanted to deceitfully take land that had rich resources for the purpose of capital and community expansion and thirdly, they wanted Indians to join the blue-collar workforce of urban expansion.
Our vision of this project is to showcase an indigenous neorealist aesthetics that arises from the stories of Indigenous people and their understanding of how Relocation history is part of California’s history, and to also change the negative and inaccurate views of who we are as American Indians. We also hope that this project will help foster a better understanding of the differences, despite the cultural ties, that we as American Indian people have and offer an accurate portrayal of how Indian life and tribal identity are still sustained, even in an urban city like Los Angeles.