Robert and Fannie Mitchell. Tribal affiliation: Dine. Photo by Matika Wilbur

Project 562 at South Puget Sound Community College

by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

Matika Wilbur’s Project 562 is a photographic document of every native tribe in the United States. She’s traveled more than 250,000 miles to photograph Native Americans from the 566 tribes in our country. A selection of her photographs will be displayed in the South Puget Sound Community College art gallery for four days in February. In addition to Wilbur’s project, SPSCC students will photograph indigenous people from this area to create a mural that will be hung outside a campus building yet to be determined. It’ll remain there until it erodes due to weather in an estimated two to three years.

“We are lucky to be hosting Matika. Her important work is quickly growing in demand,” said gallery director Nathan Barnes. “Project 562 will reveal the rich indigenous reality, history and identity of Native Americans.”

Wilbur comes from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes. In 2012, she was living in an apartment in Seattle. She sold everything and “packed a few essentials into my war pony, and hit the open road” in pursuit of photographing all the tribes in the land. At the time, there were 562 registered tribes, thus the project title. Now there are 566.

Wilbur is a nationally recognized photographer. Her works have been exhibited in the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts, the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum and many other major venues.

The project website explains, “Project 562 creatively addresses and remedies historical inaccuracies, stereotypical representations and the absence of Native American images and voices in mass media and the national consciousness.”

Wilbur said, “I’m ultimately doing this because our perception matters. Our perception fuels racism. It fuels segregation. Our perception determines the way we treat each other.”

What: Project 562

Where: The Gallery at Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts,
South Puget Sound Community College,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia

When: noon – 4 p.m. weekdays, Feb. 21-24

How much: free

Learn more: Project 562 | The Gallery




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