My work with Native Americans began in the early 1960’s when I was assigned as a young, Jesuit to teach for three years at St. Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Reservation in western South Dakota.
I taught many different subjects, coached track and basketball [two championships!] and monitored the boys’ dormitory.
I returned 10 years later to document a small town, Spring Creek, SD, taking inspiration from W. Eugene Smith’s Spanish Village Life magazine story. The resulting portfolio of photos won Special Recognition in Nikon’s World Understand Award in the Pictures of the Year competition.
That award led to a black and white story in Alaska for National Geographic among the Yupik Eskimos in Toksook Bay along the Bering Sea.
A few years later another black and white story for National Geographic magazine appeared, entitled, The Athapascans, a people living along the Yukon River in Alaska.
The late Brian Lanker’s book, I Dream a World, Portraits of Black Women who Changed America, was the inspiration for my book, Vision Quest: Men, Women and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation. Brian shared with me his working methods over a Thanksgiving weekend with his family at his home.