Chasing America's Modern Nomads with Adrain Chesser

<i>The Return</i> is a collaboration between photographer Adrain Chesser and ritualist Timothy White Eagle. The aim was to create a mythic portrait of a people, a place, and an ideal, working with a coterie of fierce individuals who traveled...

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Feb 20 2014, 5:59pm

The Return is a collaboration between photographer Adrain Chesser and ritualist Timothy White Eagle. The aim was to create a mythic portrait of a people, a place, and an ideal, working with a coterie of fierce individuals who traveled nomadically through the western United States. They embodied the ideal of living a symbiotic relationship with the Earth, based on the ways of early Native Americans.

In 2007, Chesser attended a Native American ceremony called the Naraya in Short Mountain, Tennessee, where he met White Eagle, Finisia Medrano, and J. P. Hartsong. “It was at a time in my life when, due to medical conditions, I felt trapped in a system of employment, health insurance, and Western medicine that I was dependent upon to keep me ‘alive and healthy.’ When I learned how Finisia and Hartsong were living, I knew that I had to follow them out west to make the photographs that became The Return. My soul needed images of people living wild and free, untethered from society, specifically people whose life experience reflected my own feelings of being ‘other.'”

The Return depicts a loosely banded tribe of people who move between Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon. Traveling with the seasons, the subjects of The Return use traditional hunter-gatherer skills along with knowledge of indigenous food crops to follow an ancient way of life known as “the Hoop.”

“The subjects in The Return are predominately not indigenous Native Americans. Most carry European ancestry, and most come in one form or another from the disenfranchised margins of mainstream America,” says White Eagle. “Most are poor, some are queer, some are transgendered, some are hermits, and some are politically radical. All believe that major shifts are needed in the way modern society interacts with the natural world. And all are willing pioneers, stepping off into uncertain terrain and searching for something lost generations ago.”

The Return will be published by Daylight Books later this year. Click here for more information. 

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