You Need To Know These 10 Indigenous Photographers

In 4 years of studying photography in college, I can’t recall learning of a single indigenous or Native American photographer. In the world of photography most indigenous people we encounter are photographed through the lens of white photographers. 

We can never deeply understand indigenous perspectives this way, so today I’m going to introduce you to 10 indigenous photographers you should know about.

This is by no means comprehensive. It’s meant to be an introduction to the work of some indigenous photographers, past and present, so you can begin to see a different perspective on indigenous communities: THEIR OWN perspective. 

Watch the video below for a brief bio on each photographer with a selection of their amazing photography. Then scroll down to follow them on social media, connect with their work online and more.

Zig Jackson

(b.1957) Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara

Click here to go to Zig Jackson’s segment in the video.

See more of Zig Jackson’s work on his website.
Here’s an interview I enjoyed with Zig Jackson.
More about Jackson’s Library of Congress collection on their website.

Wendy Red Star

(b.1981) Apsáalooke

Click here to go to Wendy Red Star’s segment in the video.

See more of Wendy Red Star’s photos, sculptures, and mixed media projects on her website.

Josué Rivas

(b.1989) Mexica/Otomi

Click here to go to Josué Rivas’s segment in the video.

See more about Josué Rivas on his website.
Follow Rivas on Instagram.

Rivas has a database of indigenous photographers called… Indigenous Photograph. Take a look!
INDÍGENA is a organization founded by Rivas to promote collaboration between indigenous creators.

Horace Poolaw

(1906-1984) Kiowa

Click here to go to Horace Poolaw’s segment in the video.

Learn more about Horace Poolaw in this New York Times article.

Matika Wilbur

(b.1984) Swinomish/Tulalip

Click here to go to Matika Wilbur’s segment in the video.

Follow Matika Wilbur and Project 562 on Instagram.
See more of Wilbur’s photos on her website.
Learn more about Project 562.

James Luna

(1950-2018) Puyukitchum/Ipai/Mexican-American

Click here to go to James Luna’s segment in the video.

Article: Remembering James Luna

Kali Spitzer

(b.1987) Kaska Dena/Jewish/2Spirit

Click here to go to Kali Spitzer’s segment in the video.

Follow Kali Spitzer on Instagram.
Take a look at Kali Spitzer’s website.

Cara Romero

(b.1977) Chemehuevi

Click here to go to Cara Romero’s segment in the video.

Follow Cara Romero on Instagram.
Be sure to check out Romero’s website for more amazing photography.

Brian Adams

(b.1985) Iñupiaq

Click here to go to Brian Adams’s segment in the video.

Brian Adams has so many amazing photos on his website! Take a look!
Check out Adams on Instagram.

Jaida Grey Eagle

(b.1987) Oglala Lakota

Click here to go to Jaida Grey Eagle’s segment in the video.

Head to Jaida Grey Eagle’s website for more of her great documentary photography.
Follow Grey Eagle on Instagram.


I think there’s a misperception that any historical photographer or artist worth knowing about is already known. “The cream rises to the top.” But this is wrong for so many reasons.

Many well-known photographers came from upper middle class or wealthy backgrounds. They had more means to create their art and connections to get their work noticed. 

And who were the arbiters of taste that decided who was published in magazines or hung in museums? Obviously the vast majority were white men. 

Even if an editor or curator was socially progressive, they were judging art from their own aesthetic sensibilities, which means what they liked often didn’t take into consideration the aesthetics of other cultures.

And so why is this white guy talking to you about indigenous photographers? I do not purport to be an expert on the topic. But I do know a lot about photography and I wanted to know more about indigenous photographers, so I took some time and did some research to share with you. 

Learn their names, follow them on social media, go to exhibits in your city. When you’re primarily familiar the white perspective on native cultures, viewing the work of these amazing photographers will surely open your heart and mind.

Author: Zach Dobson

Zach Dobson is a documentary and commercial photographer based in Indianapolis. He holds a degree in journalism from Indiana University with a concentration in photography. Since starting his business in 2006, Zach has focused on documenting people’s lives and businesses in action. Zach’s client list includes the Indiana Pacers, Coca-Cola, the AARP, ZipCar, Indiana University, Visit Bloomington, Hamilton County Tourism, Land O’Lakes, RIOT LA Comedy Festival, Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana High School Athletic Association. Zach is a Professional Member of the American Society of Media Photographers [ASMP]. He resides in Carmel, Ind. with his wife and business partner, Courtney, and their five children.

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