As an Italian photographer and Lakota writer duo, we are often asked the question, “how exactly did you two meet and begin a collaboration?” Our story begins in 1998 in Fremont, Nebraska. That year, we were both new in town as Carlotta came from Italy to study as a foreign exchange student and Danielle had just moved from her home state of North Dakota. As two creative souls who felt like outcasts in our new environment, we became fast friends and inseparable. We bonded over our constant thirst of curiosity and a love of music, art, theater and thrifting. Fast forward to present time and we are still very close friends despite being split by two continents and separate life paths. We consider each other huŋká sisters; this is the Lakota way when two people adopt the huŋká relationship by assuming a bond stronger than kinship or friendship. In the summer of 2013, we were visiting each other in London and discussing how to collaborate on a passion project together. We figured it would gives us an excuse to hang out more, while working together on something that we could be proud of and express our creative strengths. Carlotta had always taken interest in learning more about Danielle’s Native American background, while Danielle had a passion to teach others the accurate and beautiful side to her culture and people. By the end of the evening, we had purchased plane tickets to North Dakota and found ourselves on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation the following month to visit Danielle’s family and to begin networking within the community. At the time, we weren’t exactly sure the direction our project would take, but what we did know is that we were on a mission to highlight all the beautiful, inspiring people and stories of Indian Country, thus The Red Road Project was born.
Carlotta Cardana was born/raised in Northern Italy and currently resides in London, England as an editorial and commercial photographer. Her previous experience living in Argentina and Mexico gave her personal practice an opportunity to look at how communities are affected by economic upheaval and oppression, Indigenous spirituality, the relationship between humans and their environment and at how one’s identity is shaped by the society and space he/she inhabits, such as among minorities or subcultures. Carlotta’s work has been awarded and exhibited internationally and is included in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery and the Parliamentary Art Collection. See more of her expanded work on her website.
Danielle SeeWalker, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, is a Hunkpapa & Oglala Lakota artist, writer, and mother based in Denver, Colorado. She serves as a Commissioner with the Denver American Indian Commission and holds a career with a Fortune 500 company. Because of the historical stigma often associated with being Native American (particularly in North Dakota), Danielle often felt shame and hopelessness as a young girl. That experience has only fueled her passion and dedication to this project with hopes to inspire Native American youth, peers and future generations. Today, through her artwork, writing and lectures, Danielle continues to redirect the narrative to an accurate and insightful representation of contemporary Native America.