Faces from the Land: Twenty Years of Powwow Tradition

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Heritage, family, and culture are woven into the dancing dress as inextricably as any thread and shared in the pages of this extraordinary book.

 



Monday through Friday, they may be construction workers, computer technicians, educators, or blackjack dealers. On weekends, however, when the drum of the powwow calls, North American Indians from Washington to New Jersey and beyond answer the invitation to dance by exchanging their workaday uniforms for majestic regalia.

Photographer Ben Marra and his wife, Linda, traveled to powwows across North America to capture this vibrant collection of portraits in Faces from the Land. In it they have documented the brilliant colors, incredible craftsmanship, and personal significance of the regalia worn at these events. More than their physical beauty, Marra’s photographs reveal an essential quality of these outfits:  They are a source of pride for the individuals wearing them.

Heritage, family, tribe, and culture are woven into the dancing dress as inextricably as any thread and shared in the pages of this extraordinary book. Each dancer recounts his or her own journey to the drum circle in testimonies collected by Linda Marra.

The authors, too, have learned from their twenty years photographing on the powwow trail. They write in the introduction about their realization that powwows are more than mere social occasions with handsome people dancing. “The people have chosen a path of commitment, a way of life.” They write, “They’ve told us they dance to follow the Red Road—a healthy and meaningful path for life—which also means they have chosen to live free of alcohol and drugs.”  

Working together as photographer and producer/documentarian respectively, Ben Marra and his wife, Linda, began to document powwows in 1988. The Marras’ ongoing photography project originated as a traveling exhibit for museums, two yearly calendars, fine art photographs, lithographic art prints, and a book, Powwow: Images along the Red Road.

In Faces from the Land, one thing becomes clear: A new generation of Native Americans is determined and honor-bound to keep the dancing tradition alive.

 

 

Author: Ben Marra & Linda Marra

Illustrations: Color photos by Ben Marra

Binding Availability: Hardcover

Published: 2009

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Pan-Indian