Since inception in 2013, The Red Road Project’s purpose is to document, through words & visuals, the inspiring and resilient stories of Native America. These stories, not often told, highlight the people and communities that are taking positive actions and demonstrating resilience. More often than not, we see a non-Native narrative reporting on what Indigenous cultures are or represent and this often leads to misconceptions and fueling of negative stereotypes and microaggressions. With the vast and complicated historical trauma that American Indian people have had to endure for centuries, our intention through this project is to redirect that conversation. It is important that The Red Road Project is a platform for Native American people to tell their stories of past, present, and future through their own voices and words. We believe that Indigenous knowledge and teachings can also suggest solutions to the issues we are facing collectively as humans – now more so than ever.
The title of this work comes from various Native American teachings that encourage one to “walk the red road”. When Native American people say they are walking the “red road” it means they are living life with purpose while on a path to positive change. Through this work, we want to illustrate how various American Indian tribes have had to overcome constant attempts of cultural genocide and acknowledge the residual scars of colonization, but more importantly, bring forth the resilience, resistance, and revitalization of Indian Country today.
What did we do so wrong that they would want to wipe us out? Strip us of our land, force us onto reservations, take our language and clothing, make our children go into boarding schools and punish them for crying for their mothers. We cared for this land and now look at it. Look at us; we are dying. We were a people of millions and now some tribes have a few left, if any. Some have died out all together. We are losing our languages, many of our lives have succumbed to alcohol and our children don’t know our traditions. We never took gold, we have no interest in oil, we only cared for the land and that is all we know. We ask ourselves everyday: what did we do so wrong?
– James, Rosebud (2013)