Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Mexico Photographer

NEW MEXICO Based Photographer

New Mexico is a great hub to get to either coast, LA or NYC.
call me at 505 401 5987
Taking assignments daily.
Teaching one on one Workshops that target photographer/artist goals.
Advertising and Editorial bookings
Patrons contact me to get an update on current art projects.

Thank You
Happy New Year 2012

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Design That Makes My Mouth Water

1949 MERCURY two door

This is my dream car..."when the going gets tough the tough go shopping"
When I have some spare change....this is exactly what I want to make my life rock.
I would change the tires and make certain its a good day its not green at all but it makes me feel good. Santa if there is any list...put me on it.

Love this car, and the auto culture.

Monday, December 19, 2011


photo courtesy of Nimpitja Gyuto House Australia

The ghanta (Sanskrit) or dorje drilbu (Tibetan) bell, tantric instrument held in the left
handof monks as they chant - it represents the perfection of wisdom and emptiness.

I never bank on hearsay. Believe what you know to be true. We can't control how others interpret our images...if they decide to see and feel negative feelings or create stories that are not as the artist has intended than that is their nature. Not yours. Once I took some children to see some Rosenberg exhibit in NYC and I had all the kids tell me what they saw in his work. It was pure and honest. Adults come with baggage and create stories that somehow are in part supporting a pattern, good bad indifferent. What role do you create in your life...the hero, the victim, the sage...who are you really? I feel like the student learning and feeling daily...compassion for those whom are stuck and in for those whom have conquered with full awareness of their being by being in the moment with love and grace.

Today I heard a story that was only half truth, knowing the truth I thought wow...some people really like to play to the down sad.....Create a positive life experience and you will have it. Just asking oneself how can I make my life better? What do I want in my life? What are the steps to create the life I want is a positive step toward being more creative and light.
Writing down ideas and concepts creates change and forward thinking.

Art for me is about manifesting ...I have an idea on my table now...its huge....probably will cost tons to make into reality but baby steps....a drawing, words, calls for materials, make a model and get a quote from a fabricator on costs.....its all in the works because I believe this idea will inspire others to be accountable and full of love and gifting good energy into the world with a fertile idea to come true. This is the way visionary things happen, stirred with a joyful energy and with ease. I know many people whom create with ease and spew out ideas .....its not difficult at just happens. Now a timeline will unfold and maybe I can make a deadline, maybe not...but with gentle stride I will move toward the birthing of a valid and beautiful project that can occupy space for inspiration for all.

If your unhappy with your story change it...I did and I choose health and is abundant and thoughtful in my life. I pray for all peoples to find peace in their Spiritual journey.
I have surrendered to accept the things I can not change and find abundance in my present moment. Money can 't buy love, so if your stuck in a rut over that ebb and flow maybe we have to accept and push harder to find peace....however those I know in the rat wheel seem hardly peaceful or happy. I was there and now I am stepping forward one day at a time with ease and my spirit knows this is my and love, poetry is in the living daily with laughter, tears and awareness. Native culture has a saying " to feel is to know your alive" sometime feeling is too alive for us so be gentle with yourselves.

In art I find it very telling how humans interpret the vision before them...those who find the negative are usually less enlightened for the bigger lessons and those who find the light in even the darkest corner are by far more open to live and are not gripped by the material rather moved for the poetry that is before them....ever present. Those people are the ones that sage our way forward. Pay attention....or you will just repeat your less attractive patterns and never really find true happiness. Maybe those folks want to wallow in pity and need for attention....that is not a story to nurture....feed the love and get the love, starve it and you will remain on empty.

Good luck with all the ways you see the world and art before you. Find the joy and lessons or live miserably. Good luck with your choices. Accountability is always a tricky thing with fragile egos.
We as humans are all things that matter in an immediate reactive state, however the planet, animals, others are of equal value.  Lets not forget that every action gets a reaction.  Its in this that we can investigate if need be?  If someone is angry at you...well maybe you did something to alienate yourself from them, maybe you unconsciously sabotaged your situation or your just plain old chicken to deal with the matter at hand?  A number of things makes humans do, say and be.  A happy heart is a honest heart.  For those who become collateral damage due to others actions...well...its your choice to stay with it or depart.  If their is no win end of the tunnel I say leave....and if the win is a boobie prize...well you reap what you sew.  Why settle for less?  Think kind and think true.

Sending love to all sentient beings.


A movie recommend that can help you manifest is the secret...I have been doing these ideas for years so when this film aired I was glad to see it for its a tool for those whom need a push toward enlightening their personal lives.

Monday, December 12, 2011



Artist: Rob Buchholz
and his crew get stranded at my place during a snow storm en route to NY.
Installing his nest piece from Burning Man 2009 where I met him one dusty day.
Lets say we had a few spa days...not a bad way to hang.
Seriously we had to do the dishes in one of the tubs while I was re plumbing the farm sink. Rob volunteered to shower and clean at the same time....Our funny life full of joy.

Like a Japanese painting I see this as shapes instead of dirty dishes

Father and son James/Aaron helping me rework the farm kitchen

I was wanting a Viking of Wolfe stove/oven when this Wedge Wood found its way into my home.
A super find and were cookin up a storm here this winter.

Soup by Eleanor Preger this weeks workshop student from Incline Lake Tahoe

Thanks to Photography

I meet so many people on the road and while your planning some big life...LIFE is actually happening to me all the time with shifts and shakes...when you think you have nailed it ...don't sit down for too long.....something will nudge your world ...always for the better I say.
What plan....I have none. Controlling one's life is boring....for some it works well...same job, same partner, same old stuff all the time...That has never been my world.... I always thought my life as an artist would be so different ...that drive that makes you produce easily,,,with a passion and hunger for the creation at a days end....
Actions are what moved to make things happen.
Wait for no one or you will loose your Spirit.
An artist heart must manifest things all the time.
Mingling and meeting people is one of my favorite things to do.
Doors open all the time when your intent is good.
Never a dull moment being a photographer in the world.
Today...North bound to meet an artist and a foundry owner.
Its always an adventure when you focus on the positive.
Your glass will be more than full.
God Speed

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Never A Brown NOSE

Drive by shooting, one shot after branding my cattle.
Feliz Navidad

Four Questions of Value in Life

Johnny Depp says it best in
Don Juan DeMarco
(cut and paste if link is not clickin)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Unbelievable!! Today, President Karzai granted clemency to Gulnaz! It's all over CNN and BBC-- WE DID IT!! 93000 people signed the petition to ask the President to reconsider the policy of incarcerating women for "moral crimes" and he did! Gulnaz is no longer in jail for refusing to marry her rapist! Now, we only have 842 and 1130 children left to free from this injustice--and we can do it!!
Thank you to all who have supported efforts of Afghan Women's Justice Project over the past year. You have changed history!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mercury Retrograde: Astrology on the Web

Mercury Retrograde: Astrology on the Web

the devil is in the details
An interesting read to ponder as the world turns

The Fountain of Youth


A photographers life is all suspect to the adventures that trickle in their lives daily! The phone rings and a job is on the table.

l. Can you go to Camden Maine, Greece, swim with dolphins, cruise to the islands....
2. Want to shoot Muhammad Alie, child prostitutes, homeless folk, twins, you name it?
3. Here's a huge ad Campaign can you handle it, Master Card, Allegra, button up and hang loose?
4. How about photographing all the elder surfers for Surfing for Life for the NY Times Magazine
Go on a week to HI for a surf story? Who wouldn't even if it did drown my gear at least my assistant survived that wave. (the list is endless and abundant)

One day your meeting scientist like Lynn Margulis and the next John Glenn, the Neville Brothers, whistle blowers,and design greats like Tibor Kalman and Phillip Stark. Children riddled with disease yet a smile on their face, soldiers heading to war along side family members or Julia Child's with a giant cooking of those shots I wish she were wearing latex....but what memories and adventures into the lives of hundreds of interesting people. My list is ridiculously long and it continues still. Why wouldn't a photographer want to keep going on and on in their life career. A dream job that has benifit my family and friends all the time.
I love strangers, the stories behind the people. Rarely do I find anyone boring.
Boring to me is doing the same thing over and over to the point of insanity.
Your point of view must change all the time....360 degrees of view as my friend Sarah Davidson has said many a time....walk around it , get away from it and take a break from it to see a-fresh.
If you do what you've always done you will get what you've always got. If that works for you and some it does work...those who specialize in one type of light or way of seeing can bank on it. For me I need invention and energy to see anew, to co create for clients and my self with others. It's in this, that the adventure can come forth in true form. Here is where ones vision can be fresh instead of stagnant.

I live on a farm....I lived in NYC for 16 about abundance! That city is rich with a plethora of experiences to be had by all....Art and love and creative essence shared. I can't believe that I lived with in NYC for so long....absorbing all the information overload that cities have to offer. I found all the good stuff and I saw plenty less easy on the eyes and heart, however...always learning and applying for the that is my nature. If you seek the bad maybe you are just into negative energy....If you see the light...than God Speed. Creating isn't destroying. For me, creation flows not un-like a river. When its stuck we have to un-dam it to let it meander down at its own pace, or leave it in peace to stew and become any of many points of choose. Well wishes always for the cycle of water is to evaporate and refill our mountains and streams...were all just a part of something bigger so make that time here full of love and laughter and real feelings...all feelings are good...just choose the ones that create health and wellness. Clinging on to what isn't working just becomes stale and old and boring. If your life is such than only you are truly to accountable...but that is key most are not accountable for there part in creating their conundrum's. I can't blame anyone nor do I want to for my life experiences good and bad I choose to find clarity and art and love in my personal fountain, hence this is many artist life styles....the youth is given back for daring to live beyond social barriers and status quo. For this I send love to all those whom suffer. I wish for safe passage to a health and happiness.
Now on a farm my senses are more attune to every sound, smell, taste and season , more than most and in an unusual way. Its sort of a poetic blessing and curse. A doctor friend of mine as repeatedly labeled me earth momma. Its true every sensation is felt to my core.
It's the feelings that make me aware that my life is more about messaging ....I get side tracked on other peoples and matters of the heart but always I have found a sanctuary of artful abundance in my work.

Two emotions rule human actions...Fear or Love. Which one do you operate on for your life? I have always surrendered to love. Its not always the right path but it is huge with imperfection and lessons to create a better path for living fully.

"It's all good when you choose to allow the truth of your life to exist."

We are just animals and biologically at best. Hopeless accounts of desiring love, usually the Universe gives us opportunity for lessons to learn.....never boring but at times grueling.
I wouldn' t trade a day of the love that has occurred in my life. I have been blessed with the best lessons of love. Sacred are the Souls of others and when they one day awaken to your soul as sacred the lessons are learned and mirrored.

We stumble along the path and make new friends and always when your Spirit is bright the others whom see it ....attach to what they so need and want....Protect yourselves and give accordingly but don't loose your essence for a drowning souls need to be saved. You will sink and so will your art. Your heart and the energy brought forth must be cycled for that is real.
Find the good and clarity comes in clean water. Clarity is in the calm of being true to your self.
To show up for yourself. In your heart, your art and your life. One week left how do you want to spend it and who and where to do you want to have that life? For me I see a circle and a fire of love and life with all my family and water we surf, on land we love and eat and in private I love the lover who can surf a real wave of life and have my back with grace and ease of a warrior.

My fountain of youth is working as a photographer/ artist meeting people and wandering the world. This feeds my soul with love and gratitude in which I fully give back to all that are in my inner circle and those whom I break bread.

Hang Ten Namaste

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Four Agreements

Another One for the Library

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Amber-Allen Publishing, San Rafael, CA (1997).

The Four Agreements can be summed up as follows:

(1) Be Impeccable With Your Word. The broad scope of this concept is to avoid sin against yourself by what you think. Sinning against the self takes many forms: such as, putting yourself down, gossiping, or putting anybody else down because you don't agree with what they think. Actions and words need to be consistent as part of being impeccable with yourself. The other side of the coin is the smoky mirror concept. Ruiz makes the point that our perceptions of others are merely reflections of ourselves. Therefore, to put another down or project negative words or energy towards another person, is to lash out at the other person because of our own insecurities.

(2) Don't Take Anything Personally. There is an awful lot of negative energy out there and some of it is directed at us by other people. If you take it personally and take on the poison of another's words, it becomes a very negative agreement you have with yourself. What anybody thinks about you, or says about you, is really about them. Not taking it personally allows you to be in relationship with anyone and not get trapped in their stuff. This agreement can also pertain to things that we take personally that cause us to go into upset.

(3) Don't Make Assumptions. What we think we understand about what someone says, how someone looks at us, what someone means by what they do, etc, may often not reflect reality at all, and more often than not lead us to think badly of ourselves or of others, and reinforce not being impeccable with our word.

(4) Always Do Your Best. Your "best" is a variable thing from moment to moment. "When you do your best, you don't give the Judge the opportunity to find you guilty or to blame you.� You can always say, �I did my best." There are no regrets. (p.80) The other key to doing your best revolves about being in action. "Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are. Expressing what you are is taking action. You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward." (p.82)

Friday, November 25, 2011

“Make the most of yourself, because that’s all there is of you.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

National Portrait Gallery

David M Kennedy and Nicholas Herrera


Two of my favorite artist pals slipped out of New Mexico to present many of Davids images to the curator of this establishment. I am so proud of him as my friend first. He grumbles with life and love issues like many of us and still like the turtle he will win the race.
He's work is breath taking. When the going gets rough I look to him and see inspiration.
He is steady moving toward what matters.
One minute you think its love and the next its the lesson and than the artist in his own way translates life observations in space, time and light onto papers that you want to dive into and swim with the image that is resonating with your heart.
David has spent many years working in America, documenting Indian dances and celebs and just plain ole country folk. Always authentic and down to earth.
He is my brother Spirit and dear friend ....he draws a line in the sand for me all the time
This side loves you and this side is bullshit.
Always he is right.
I don't always listen but when I see his processes for his art it all makes sense to me.
I realize my work is not in my personal life but in my messages in art.
I have to exercise all my gifts and make a difference.
David at the portrait gallery this Thanksgiving is my inspiration for my art to manifest.
To move my energy and stay clear of those whom don't care or value my passage in this lifetime.
Artist need patrons often unless they are trust funder's.
Help your friends and the love that comes back to you in art is beyond a bank of bills that can't love you. Help our artist friends this year...pick one and support some aspect of their work.
Buy a print. When is the last time you supported an artist pal, by purchasing a print?
Step up if you can.

I am inspired and I think I will do that next time I see David.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Women of Influence

Women of Influence

Deadline: December 03, 2011

Submit Nomination

The New Mexico Business Weekly is seeking nominations of New Mexico's most dynamic women for our 2012 Women of Influence publication. We're looking for leaders in the state's industries and organizations. A candidate may be of any age or professional background, as long as she stands out as a model for her peers and is leaving a lasting and positive mark on New Mexico.

Nominees will be evaluated on their professional achievements, contributions to the community and leadership skills. The Business Weekly assembles a panel of community leaders to judge the awards.

Please note that we've changed our nomination process for 2012. To nominate someone, you need only fill out the information on the form below. The Business Weekly will notify the person that they've been nominated and ask them to fill out a form with information about themselves in order to be considered for the award. Nominees will be judged on submitted nomination materials alone. Those selected as honorees will be celebrated at an event and in a Business Weekly special publication in February.

Previous Women of Influence honorees are not eligible.

Deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. Dec. 2, 2011.

For more information, contact Associate Editor Rachel Sams at (505) 348-8322 or

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A Question

—Preface or Introduction to She Had Some Horses WW Norton Edition December 2008

"What do the horses mean is the question I’ve been asked most since the first publication of the book She Had Some Horses in 1984.

I usually say, “it’s not the poet’s work to reduce the poem from poetry to logic sense”. Or “it’s not about what the poem means, it’s “how” the poem means.” Then I ask: “So what do the horses mean to you?”

Like most poets, I don’t really know what my poems or the stuff of my poetry means exactly. That’s not the point. It never was the point. I am aware of stepping into a force field or dream field of language, of sound. Each journey is different, just as the ocean or the sky is never the same from one day to another. I am engaged by the music, by the deep. And I go until the poem and I find each other. Sometimes I go by horseback.

No, that’s not it at all.

The horses are horses. My father’s side of the family is inextricably linked with horses. We aren’t a Plains horse culture, though we came to know horses. I understand there was some exchange of power between the horse people and my relatives from seven generations or more back. I am the seventh generation from Monahwee (sometimes spelled as “Menawa”) who is still a beloved person to the Mvskoke people, my tribal nation. I was told how he had a way with horses. He could speak with them. And he also knew how to bend time. He could leave for a destination by horseback at the same time as his cohorts, then, arrive at his destination long before it was physically possible to arrive. He had a little black dog that followed him everywhere.

My cousin Donna Jo Harjo was a champion barrel racer, and knew how to speak with horses. She had to live close to horses, or not live at all. They were her people as much as any of the rest of us.

And there was the horse who came to see me once in the middle of a long drive north from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Albuquerque. I perceived him first by an ancient and familiar smell. Then I was broken open by memory when he nudged me, in that space that is always around and through us, a space not defined or bound by linear time or perception. He brought the spirit of the collection of poems that was to become She Had Some Horses.

Later was my horse Casey. The last time I ever drank too much was in a “proletariat bar” in Krakow, Poland because I was happy to meet and play music with some Bolivian Indian musicians and a Hawaiian, and we were all so far from home. In the grey of the early morning, when I was whirling around sick in my hotel room, my horse Casey came to me with a worried look. He was concerned because his last “owner” had died of complications from alcoholism. I assured him that this would not happen between us. And it didn’t.

Horses, like the rest of us can transform and be transformed. A horse could be a streak of sunrise, a body of sand, a moment of ecstasy. A horse could be all of this at the same time. Or a horse might be nothing at all, but the imagination of the wind. Or a herd of horses galloping from one song to the next could become a book of poetry.

I follow in the tracks of gratitude. I thank the horses, my ancestors who loved them, and those who grew to love their cars and trucks instead. I thank my mother and her family. They are the ones who brought me songwriting, guitar players and singing. I thank Simon Ortiz for singing original and old horse songs. I thank the shaman/healer I saw perform a poem and become what he was singing. It was then I began to comprehend the true power of the word: the dangers, the beauty and all the healing elements. This was when I began to write poetry. I thank those who continue to believe in the horses, in poetry."

What a journey.

Joy Harjo May 28, 2008 Honolulu, HI

Friday, November 11, 2011



While getting my photography education at Art Center School of Design I was introduced to Susan Goldman, an upper term photographer embracing still life. She wasn't the ordinary shooter, she was brilliant with her mindful ways. Concepting shots came easy to her and I found her work intriguing as it was always sort of WOW and mysterious in the same breath.
Still she gets me every time, I ponder her website....years of experience that no new be can have for she is so finessed in her skills and point of view that moving some item just a hair this way or that can make a nuance of feeling for the view more hungry or craving just more.
Susan Goldman is not just one of my best friends, she is living her life artfully and daily inspires me by everything she is and has become. For me its not a tribute but a deeply heart felt love and adoration I have for my friend, an artist , Goddess and one of the most beautiful souls I know.
She has been my shoulder, my sage, my rock as a gal pal.
We seldom see each other the past few years but I feel her presence in my heart daily.
I miss her and am grateful for her love.
There is nothing boring or stale about my friend.
Always an adventure she moves with grace in this lifetime, gentle and her vision is precise to the point with soft and silken eyes....Everything feels cozy and pretty and makes me smile.
I love this woman with all my soul and she is the bomb in Epicurean Capture.
Check her out. Better yet hire her.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A Favorite Custom
Oil on canvas, 1909
17 5/8 x 26 inches (45 x 66.1 cm) Tate Gallery, London

Oil on canvas, 1894 70 1/2 x 31 3/8 inches (179.1 x 80 cm) J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


A warm fall day and a tour bus pulls up to the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena California. My class of maybe 15 students board to go to Santa Barbara for a museum tour and the first stop was the Getty Museum. Shirley Burden was my teacher and a generous patron of the arts.
A true philanthropist.
I was probably about 22 years of age and while viewing the exhibits at the Getty I found my self in a trance in front of this painting called Springtime.
It grabbed my soul and I felt the light and intensity of every painted stroke as if it were alive like cinema before my eyes.I fell in love.
This was the first of several images that have inspired love in my life.
I purchased a poster that hung pretty much on all my walls as a student and Park Ranger doing my tour of duty. I don't know exactly where this image stopped being present in my home however, one day I will return to feel the essence again at the Getty in Malibu CA.
The actual painting is breath taking like a Thomas Hart Benton even thou smaller in size.
The details are mesmerizing. A must see.
I believe Allen Funt of Candid Camera purchased most of Alma Tadema s works over the years.
A fact that I always found of interest for such a light hearted man to collect this seriously huge body of work by Alma-Tadema
As an artist for those seeking inspiration I think you have to follow your intuition and just stop and feel. Let nature and images just talk to you ...sit with life and allow your imagination to think about how it came to be.
Once in France at the Picasso Museum in Antibes.
This museum houses one of the world's greatest Picasso collections: 24 paintings, 44 drawings, 32 lithographs, 11 oils on paper, 80 pieces of ceramics, 2 sculptures and 5 tapestries.
I felt a sculpture and it was so energizing to thing his hands made that exact piece of art and
everyone could embrace it unguarded.
What a privileged society we live in as Americans

Thursday, October 27, 2011


New Mexico is bordered by AZ, CO, TX OK
a few hours flight to anywhere in the USA makes New Mexico a great location base.
We have pretty great weather year round and the cost of doing business here is half that of any major city.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Elouise Cobell - RIP

photography by karen kuehn

Elouise Cobell's Accounting Coup

A profile of the late Blackfeet woman who successfully sued the federal government for billions on behalf of ripped-off Native Americans.

—By Julia Whitty

Elouise Cobell died on October 16, 2011, at the age of 65. This profile was written as she was 9 years into her 16-year legal quest, which eventually won $3.4 billion for a half-million Native Americans—the largest settlement in US history.

ALONG HIGHWAY 89, south of the Two Medicine River on the slope of Glacier National Park, at a place Elouise Pepion Cobell passes every day on her way from her ranch to her office in Browning, stands a historical marker erected by the state of Montana:

OLD AGENCY: The Starvation Winter of 1883-1884 took the lives of about 500 Blackfeet Indians who had been camping in the vicinity of Old Agency. This tragic event was the result of an inadequate supply of government rations during an exceptionally hard winter.
The story of that winter that came down to Cobell from her parents and grandparents is a darker one: of Indians effectively imprisoned by what locals called the Indian Agency (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs or BIA) on land that had been emptied of the bison and pronghorn that had been their staples, and with their promised government provisions lost to pervasive corruption. "All the Blackfeet know," says Cobell, "that the Agency man was black-marketing the Indians' rations, and that the reservation was enclosed in barbed wire."
map by Dave Stevenson

In the winter of 1883, as the cattle of white settlers grazed illegally on Indian lands, the Blackfeet began to die of starvation and a streptococcal epidemic. In the spring, they ate their last government-provided seed potatoes; by June they were stripping cottonwood trees to chew the inner bark; and by the time BIA officials in Washington, D.C., finally responded with extra rations, a Blackfeet man called Almost-A-Dog was said to have cut 555 notches in a willow stick, one for every Indian who had died—one in every four Blackfeet in the state of Montana.

Just west of the Old Agency historical marker, in what is now the Blackfeet Nation, lies an unmarked, wind-scoured rise of hills the Indians call Ghost Ridge, where the dead from the Starvation Winter, which actually lasted 18 unrelenting months, were buried in mass graves. When Cobell was a child, an uncle lived nearby, and every time they visited him, her parents repeated the story of Ghost Ridge. Cobell says it's those dead who give her the courage to fight on. "Fighting for them," she says. "Fighting the same government that tried to get rid of this entire race of people."

HER FIGHT TAKES THE FORM of Cobell v. Norton, a federal lawsuit on behalf of a half-million Indians across America whose individual property is held in trust by the Department of the Interior, which oversees the BIA. Interior leases these private Indian lands to oil, timber, and agricultural corporations and other commercial entities, then pays the Indians the revenues those leases yield. But Cobell claims the government has been grossly negligent in its 118 years of managing the Individual Indian Trust, treating the Indians not as clients and beneficiaries but as easy marks.

While generations of non-Indians have become rich harvesting the abundant resources of private Indian lands—which once included virtually all the oil fields of Oklahoma—Indian landowners have been paid only erratically, and far less than their due. Consequently, even landowning Indians remain among the nation's poorest citizens, joining the 23 percent of Indians in America living in poverty, and the nearly 40 percent who are unemployed. Some tribes fare even worse, and the Blackfeet suffer a 34 percent poverty rate and a 70 percent unemployment rate. Overall, Indians are more than twice as poor as the average American.

Cobell filed her lawsuit in 1996 after years of kinder entreaties failed, demanding payment of all unpaid revenues from Indian leases for the past century, a tally of past revenues, and a new accounting system to deal with future revenues. According to Cobell's forensic accountants, the government owes $176 billion to individual Indian landowners, averaging $352,000 per plaintiff, making this monetarily the largest class-action lawsuit ever launched.

If successful, Cobell's lawsuit may force a historical shift of America's capital away from the cowboys—the oil, gas, timber, mining, grazing, and agriculture industries, along with their political cohorts—toward the Indians. Furthermore, there's a nearly identical case waiting in the wings regarding Tribal Trust lands, also managed by Interior. Not surprisingly, the Clinton and Bush administrations have flexed unprecedented bureaucratic muscle to delay the resolution of Cobell v. Norton, spending hundreds of millions of dollars defending Interior.

In court, Interior is backed by the formidable resources of the Department of Justice, along with 35 of the country's most expensive private law firms. Cobell, meanwhile, rents a modest four-room office in Browning and has funded her legal challenge with $11 million in grant money. Small, soft-voiced, and an energetic 59 years old—she refers to herself as "kind of hyper" even six weeks after undergoing surgery to donate a kidney to her husband—Cobell seems an unlikely crusader. But she is the great-granddaughter of Mountain Chief, part of a pantheon of legendary Blackfeet warriors who battled the U.S. government as far back as its original real estate emissaries, Lewis and Clark.

To those concerned that the United States can't afford a Cobell v. Norton settlement, she says, "It's not your money and never was."

WHILE GHOST RIDGE is Cobell's personal inspiration, the historical heart of Cobell v. Norton beats in the Dawes Act—a 19th-century legislative attempt to solve what President Chester A. Arthur called "the Indian problem." Simply put, Western pioneers wanted Indian lands, while liberal Easterners (mostly out of sight of any Indians) wanted the Indians to be happy. The act's author, Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts, felt the solution for the Indian lay in a Puritan work ethic: "Put him on his own land, furnish him with a little habitation, with a plow, and a rake, and show him how to go to work to use them…The only way is to lead him out into the sunshine, and tell him what the sunshine is for, and what the rain comes for, and when to put his seed in the ground."

The Dawes Act was signed into law in 1887, three years after the Blackfeet were buried atop Ghost Ridge. Also known as the General Allotment Act, Dawes mandated that most reservation lands be broken into individual parcels in the hope that dissolving communal ownership would dissolve the power of the tribes—considered counterproductive to Indian assimilation. Thus, BIA agents surveyed the reservations, typically allotting families 160 acres, and single adults 80 acres. The "surplus" lands—two-thirds of the area in question—were put up for sale.

From the Indians' point of view, Senator Dawes' experiment in social engineering was a mockery. Not only did the government fail to furnish the Indian with a plow when it gave him his allotment, it typically splintered those allotments into unmanageable islands (30 acres of timberland here, 50 acres of farmland 100 miles away), more or less guaranteeing that no Indian could work the disjointed parcels. Consequently, the government took legal title of the allotments and began to lease the land to settlers and, later, corporations. It pledged to collect the revenues and disburse them to the Indian landowners.

But from the beginning, Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado foretold that "the real aim of [the Dawes Act] is to get at the Indian's land and open it up for settlement." And in fact as soon as allotment began, Indian-owned acreage began to vanish. Twelve percent disappeared the first year. By 1920, the 136 million acres held by Indians when the Dawes Act was signed into law had shrunk to 72 million acres—17 million of which were leased to white settlers. Today some 46 million acres remain in the Tribal Trust, and 10 million in the Individ-ual Indian Trust. The rest disappeared at a rate of 1.5 million acres a year.

THE BLACKFEET NATION lies on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park, under the ice and limestone fortress of the Rockies. These 1.5 million acres mark the last citadel of a tribe that once controlled most of Montana. Yet as beautiful as the land is, the Blackfeet feel isolated and marginalized here—120 miles from Great Falls, an airport, a medical facility of any size, a college or university, or a competitive (cheap) shopping environment. People in need of nearly anything have to drive a long way, weather permitting.

Even on a relatively warm February afternoon the climate of the high prairie feels ominous. The skies lower unpredictably. The roads mask black ice. The wind dropping off the scarp of the Rockies blasts through Browning, and the town groans like a wooden ship in a storm at sea. Sometimes it blows at 90 miles an hour, downing signs and billboards and blowing freight trains off the tracks. Before they lost their land, the Blackfeet wintered down by Yellowstone, among its sheltered forests and warm waters, where the bison spent the cold months. "We weren't crazy," Cobell says.

"Crazy" and "dumb" are two words Indians hear a lot. At age 18, when Cobell started asking the BIA for an accounting of her Individual Indian Monies, officials told her she wasn't "capable" of understanding the accounting. "If someone tells me something can't be done, I get so mad I just have to do it," she says.

So Cobell became an accountant. Twelve years later, in 1976, she was appointed treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation. The job gave her the opportunity to hear the Blackfeet's concerns about their trust monies. Some years her fellow landowners got their checks, some years they didn't. They never received an accounting, and most (including Cobell) didn't even know, and couldn't find out, which lands exactly were theirs. Worse, some had once received payments but now no longer did, and they had no idea why. No one dared confront the BIA.

One Blackfeet Cobell heard from was Jim Little Bull, now 82 years old and living in a tiny, nearly unfurnished home in Browning heated with an ancient woodstove. When his mother, Mary Little Bull, passed away years ago, the government taxed her estate $7,000 for the operation and management of an irrigation system on her allotment. The problem was, although the land had been scored with ditches years before, no irrigation equipment had ever been installed, and no water other than rainfall had ever graced it. But Jim Little Bull was afraid to ask questions, worried his own Individual Indian Monies (IIM) would be withheld to pay his mother's bill. So he forfeited her land back to the government.

His story was hardly unique, and visiting one impoverished family after another, Cobell couldn't help but notice the oil wells pumping on Blackfeet land, the thousands of heads of cattle, the rippling fields of alfalfa. The non-Indian tenants who worked these lands were living in nice houses, driving new cars, while their Blackfeet landlords were living in cold, leaky government housing, largely unemployed and undereducated. "Why couldn't an Indian—a landholding Indian at that," wondered Cobell, "get a mortgage or a bank loan to start his or her own life?"

In 1983, after the government shut down the only bank on the reservation, Cobell got the idea of founding an Indian-owned bank. Told it would never work, she went back to school, became a banker, and, in 1987, threw open the doors of the Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank located on a reservation, and the first owned by an Indian tribe. Within 15 years it had grown into the Native American Bank, with 23 tribes from across the country investing as much as $1 million apiece to participate in it.

All the while, Cobell was looking into the government's handling of the Indian trusts. The more she investigated, the more she became convinced that the amount owed to Indian beneficiaries, both tribal and individual, was substantial, potentially enormous. Collaborating with accountants from three other tribes, she untangled a messy history of Indian trust monies dumped in the U.S. Treasury's general fund, where they could be used for the latest weapons system or for bailing out the Savings and Loan industry. "One administration after another treated the trusts as slush funds," she says. "It didn't matter to them that it was Indians' money."

Certain these findings would shake the system open, Cobell began to approach lawmakers and others in government. In 1996, she had an impromptu face-to-face with Attorney General Janet Reno, who listened attentively, then asked Cobell to write a letter. "Another letter," Cobell says.

Instead, she contacted Dennis Gingold, a prominent banking attorney she had met four years earlier at a meeting called by a sympathetic official of the federal Office of Management and Budget. Although Gingold had thought they were convening to discuss the banking and finances of Americans from India—"I'm from New Jersey," he quips, "I've never even heard of Native Americans"—when he heard Cobell's story, he turned to the government officials in the room and said: "I can't believe you guys haven't been sued."

"I'm going to keep my eye on that guy," Cobell thought. Four months after the Reno snub, Dennis Gingold filed what was initially called Cobell v. Babbitt in U.S. District Court.

ONE OF COBELL V. NORTON'S unnamed plaintiffs is James Mad Dog Kennerly, a man who should be a prosperous Montanan. One of his hereditary allotments includes as many as five working oil wells. Yet from these he receives a government-issued royalty check for roughly $30 a month, and he lives in a house smaller than a modern walk-in closet.

The drive to his oil-producing property at the eastern edge of the Blackfeet Nation passes through two worlds: Browning's bleak government housing, followed by miles of prosperous farmland. "That's my land, right here," says Kennerly. He points to another of his allotments—leased not to an oil company but to a Hutterite farming colony, an Amishlike community that, ironically, works property communally. These farms are large and seemingly prosperous, with huge barns and well-tended fields. Kennerly complains that Interior—which manages one-fifth of all land in the country—leases his lands for far less than the going rate.

Mad Dog Kennerly's fight against the government began in a government-run orphanage for Indians, led through the Indian occupation of Alcatraz in 1969, and is focused now on getting paid what he feels he's owed. His battle colors include embroidered bald eagles and American flags adorning his leather jacket and baseball cap. When asked what he would have done if he'd had access to the money he believes was his all these years, he fires back without a moment's hesitation."I'd have gone to school and become a lawyer and fought the goddamned BIA."

At the center of Kennerly's fight is the effort to free himself from the paternal grasp of a government that has tried to make every decision for him since the moment of his birth. This is the struggle of all Indians, says Cobell—a battle personified by legendary athlete Jim Thorpe, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, who was forced to beg for his trust monies to fund his travel to the 1912 Olympics in Sweden. The government denied his request, although the BIA eventually gave him a whopping $25. Nevertheless, Thorpe brought home two gold medals to a cheering America.

This misbegotten paternalism continues to pervade the Indian trust saga. Keith Harper, one of Cobell's lawyers and a member of the Cherokee Nation, notes that Interior administers the Individual Trust like a welfare program. "There's an institutional reluctance to change from a boss to a servant," he says. "A trust officer is a servant." Early in the Cobell suit, the government contended that the Individual Indian Trust was not a trust at all, a contention it lost in court.

These days Interior likes to spin the Cobell suit as an attempt to seek reparation for all wrongs done to Indians. Interior spokesman Dan DuBray admits to a "sad and difficult history between this government and native peoples," but says the Cobell case is not about "Trail of Tears or Wounded Knee—it's about seeking an accounting." DuBray, a Rosebud Sioux and son of a BIA employee, contends that even if the plaintiffs win Cobell v. Norton, it won't make much difference in the lives of the majority of Individual Indian account holders. "In all the years my father opened his IIM mail he never said this isn't enough money," says DuBray. Instead he questioned, "Why is the government spending all this money on postage to send me an 8-cent check?"

Cobell counters that many of the payments Indians never received were "lost" in BIA pockets, even into the pockets of Indian employees of the BIA—who inherited a broken system and were promoted for going with the flow. "In the old days we called them the Fort Indians," Cobell says.

DuBray says the real problem is not the government's loss of Indian records or mismanagement of funds or its negligence as trustee but an issue most Indians "don't really understand": the issue of fractionated heirship. This is the heart of the case, he says—not that over the years the government has been paying out less money to the Indians, only that it has been splitting the money among an ever-growing number of Indian heirs. He cites his own case. DuBray and his brother will soon inherit 50 percent shares in their recently deceased father's Individual Indian Trust account. "His 8-cent check will be split between the two of us," DuBray laughs. He says even his own family members don't understand, and are hoping their "1/250th share will pay out big money if Cobell wins."

The plaintiffs contend the government can't be trusted when it says that 8 cents is all that's due. "How do we know it's only 8 cents?" asks Cobell. "Why not $8 or $8 million?" For Cobell and her lawyers, the heart of the case lies in the responsibilities dictated by trust law. The government is the trustee, and "if they can't show it," says Harper, "they owe it."

So far, the government hasn't been able to show much of anything. Although Interior maintains that trust records generated since the 1950s are mostly intact, plaintiffs contend that until a Treasury official testified to the practice in 1999, trust records were routinely destroyed after six and a half years. In any case, the Indians and the BIA disagree as to how much land is Indian land and how much money those lands have generated. The court must determine which version of history is correct—a task that has consumed more than nine years of taxpayer-funded court time.

The government claims it's cooperating. But U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth strenuously disagrees. In the course of overseeing the lawsuit, this Reagan appointee has held two secretaries of Interior and one secretary of Treasury in contempt, has written scathing opinions on the government's destruction of evidence, and has periodically banned the entire Interior Department from access to the Internet for its failure to safeguard trust data. The BIA has been stranded offline for nearly four years (see "Interior Monologue"). "The entire record in this case tells the dreary story of Interior's degenerate tenure as Trustee-Delegate for the Indian trust," Lamberth recently ruled, "a story shot through with bureaucratic blunders, flubs, goofs and foul-ups, and peppered with scandals, deception, dirty tricks and outright villainy, the end of which is nowhere in sight."

In 1999, Lamberth concluded the lawsuit's first phase, finding the government in breach of its trust responsibilities. In consequence, he ordered court jurisdiction over the Individual Indian Trust for a minimum of five years, and mandated the government file quarterly reports detailing its efforts to reform the trust. He then ordered Interior to provide the Indians an accurate historical accounting dating back to 1887. "The plaintiffs should take great satisfaction in the stunning victory that they have achieved today," he concluded.

Yet more than five years later, James Mad Dog Kennerly is still receiving only $30 a month on his oil lease. And on this February day, driving the dirt roads to his allotment, he discovers the wells on his land, and on all the adjacent Indian lands, lying idle. Meanwhile, across the creek on non-Indian lands, they're genuflecting energetically to the four corners of the Interior-managed earth.

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR has responded to its ongoing losses in court with tactics the plaintiffs construe as retaliatory and intimidating. In 2004, after Judge Lamberth found the BIA was seizing land owned by Indian trustees without properly informing them of its value or location and selling it to oil companies, he ordered the agency to stop communicating with plaintiffs regarding the sale, conversion, and transfer of land. Interior reacted by shutting down BIA offices and phone lines, telling Indians they would not receive their royalty checks because of the lawsuit. Cobell's name was published on the BIA website—tacit encouragement, she says, for Indians to call and blame her. "It was the dumbest thing they could have done," she says. "I returned every one of those calls and explained what was really going on."

Among the Indians who filed affidavits about these BIA tactics was Verna St. Goddard, an elderly Blackfeet. She ran into problems when she visited the BIA office in Browning last February. For more than 35 years St. Goddard has withdrawn funds for the developmentally disabled Roseline Spotted Eagle, her former foster child. But not this day. A BIA official ordered her to drive to Great Falls and ascertain the price of the goods she wanted to buy for Spotted Eagle, then drive back to the BIA office for a check, and then return to Great Falls to purchase the items and back again—480 miles altogether. (A perfect example, St. Goddard quips, of what the BIA really stands for: Bossing Indians Around.) When she asked the BIA official why he wouldn't give Spotted Eagle her money, as he has for years, he said it was because of the Elouise Cobell lawsuit.

Lamberth called these tactics "a testament to the startling inhumanity of government bureaucracy…[and] a deliberate, infantile, and frankly ridiculous misinterpretation of this Court's straightforward order." He added: "The idea that Interior would either instruct or allow BIA to withhold payments and then to stonewall the Indians who dared to ask why is an obscenity that harkens back to the darkest days of United States-Indian relations…The perniciousness and irresponsibility demonstrated by blaming the Court pales in comparison to the utter depravity and moral turpitude displayed by [Interior's] willingness to withhold needed finances from people struggling to survive and support families on subsistence incomes."

BIT BY BIT, piece by piece, the Department of the Interior is losing this case. But as with the Starvation Winter, government tactics are exacerbating the agony—in part by appealing every one of Judge Lamberth's rulings. Interior recently lost a challenge to Lamberth's right to adjudicate the case. The department also appealed and lost a key ruling entitling the plaintiffs to full compound interest on all unpaid Individual Indian Monies. Currently, Interior is at loggerheads over how—or if—the historical accounting dating back to 1887 can be accomplished.

In 2003, Congress inserted itself into the machinations by attaching midnight riders to omnibus budget and Iraq appropriation bills to delay the court-ordered historical accounting. It also attempted to cut the salary of court-appointed investigators, while permitting Secretary Gale Norton to use discretionary funds to pay for the scores of private attorneys hired by all past and present Interior employees appearing in the case.

In July, Judge Lamberth wrote: "For those harboring hope that the stories of murder, dispossession, forced marches, assimilationist policy programs, and other incidents of cultural genocide against the Indians are merely the echoes of a horrible, bigoted government past that has been sanitized by the good deeds of more recent history, this case serves as an appalling reminder of the evils that result when large numbers of the politically powerless are placed at the mercy of institutions engendered and controlled by a politically powerful few."

Cobell however is confident the Indians will eventually win. The government has no case and they know it, she says. "They can't provide the historical accounting because they've lost or destroyed too many records. Their only strategy now is to go slow and try to outlive us all." The plaintiffs are willing to settle but insist that, after more than a century of ongoing mismanagement, Interior needs to be removed as trustee, and the Individual Indian Trust put into receivership.

COBELL'S OFFICE, upstairs on a side street in Browning, is a cheery mess, littered with awards, treasures, books, and paintings—the disordered hallmarks of someone who spends more time at work than at home. From here, she orchestrates the many brainstorms that occupy a mind bent on improving life across Indian country.

Thanks to Cobell, Browning now has the feel of a ghost town regenerating its flesh and blood, 30 years after white business owners fled most reservations. Today the Blackfeet Nation hosts more than 200 enterprises, 80 percent of them Indian-owned, and most launched with loans from the banks Cobell helped start. Yet her ideas are wider ranging than banking. As founder and executive director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, Cobell initiated a recycling program on the reservation funded with an annual art auction in nearby Glacier National Park. She also facilitated the creation of the Blackfeet Land Trust—the first land trust administered by Indians—protecting 1,200 acres of unique fen vital to grizzlies, a species the Blackfeet revere. "We Indians were the original environmentalists," she says. "We need to get back to that."

Three years ago, the Blackfeet awarded her warrior status—a rare honor for a woman. In 1997, in recognition of her diverse talents, the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a "genius" grant. She jokes about having made the leap from "dumb Indian" to "genius" in one lifetime, and says she doesn't ever again want Indians taken advantage of because they don't understand banking and finance. Collaborating with tribal educator Roberta Kipp, Cobell founded a mini bank program in which Blackfeet kids in elementary school open bank accounts, play the roles of bankers and customers, and grow their money during their school years. They reap the windfall when they graduate. Cobell, herself a graduate of a one-room schoolhouse, insists, "I want these kids to understand the way the world works, and to question everything that comes before them." No more silence or fear. After 118 years, it's time to call in the debt.

Julia Whitty is the Environmental Correspondent for Mother Jones.



LOVE - Politics-Human Emotion ... channeling those feelings into making your art more meaningful can be a golden key to being a serious messenger.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Christopher Rowland

photograph of Chris

An Artist Heart

I say this daily and live it. I could run around to events about art but than I'd never get anything done! Being in a relationship also can suck all the life out of your art if your not careful.
No one s fault but your own. Finding a balance for love and art are tricky but often I find my peers comments helpful inspiration to continue the sacred path of one's vision.
Chris is such a person, always emersed in creating and pondering life, nature, beauty and juggling his love of others with a need to tell a story or portray the people at hand.
A compass is a great tool, some of us have it and many do not.
I touched by his words and will continue to share the sweet sentiments of a blessed and grateful mans heart and being.
"When I walk into a dimly lit room and I turn on the light, I am attracted to the things illuminate by this light...If we can understand our presence here and love ourselves fully we began to shine our light on others...forgiveness of oneself and taking care to understand that we are a "Master Work" of art Divinely created in perfection, becomes in itself a portal of light. How can we truly love anyone if we cannot love ourselves, and see how magnificent we are created? FOCUS on your attributes. Light is a messenger. You are Light. Enjoy the process!"

paintings by Christopher Rowland copyright

"My life is my Art always a mission statement for me and goal.
Wake up and make things, share them and show up for yourself."
Sweeter is my life sharing it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nominate Your Favorite Teacher in the Photographic Community

Educators are asked to submit three letters of recommendation. Nomination serves as one recommendation. For more details on the guidelines and submission please visit
Submission deadline: November 21, 2011

Please email Erin Azouz,, with your nomination, including the teacher’s email address.

TELEPHONE// 505.984.8353 WEBSITE//

Thursday, October 6, 2011


(you don't have to try to be anything else but you)

My family brand I've adapted to my look for photography. I branded have branded my portfolios over the years with a variation of my dads cattle brand from Oregon. Its a very impressive piece of iron, not like the normal ones you see it has a sheath over the handle for comfort is such activities. City folks are use to buying deluxe cuts from shops like Dean & Deluca in NYC or farmers markets on the weekends and such. We grow our beef and I know what is put into them to sustain my family. It may sound off to those who have not witnessed raising cattle but or use and most country folks its not unusual. My cattle have a fine life, loving and fed well and to take them to a processing is not so outrageous if you consume meat and wear leather shoes and coats. Its very kind and simple. I won't get into details but by all means find the book
"Day in the Life of the American Woman"
I photographed a female butcher that enlightened me and my practices.
Once vegan; I have returned to modest portions of meat eating.
Its always easy to be a critic by I feel to live my life quietly and by example to my son has served us best. Animals on my farm are part of our family while they are with us and loved and treated with respect. They are honored in their passing with thanks and grace.
One day at a time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Native Philosophy

When Our Blood is Split Is it Not the Same?
Blood is is the same.
We are all human, some with more privilege than others...
Entitlement is a rampant concept in America.
I have met the richest and poorest and when I meet someone humble with a pot a gold and he's wearing shredded clothing and could care less about status quo ....that is more real to me than those how hang in the clatche's of
Look at me I'm bitch en bullshit!
I know its good to mingle and work on projects that make a difference this I support but to alienate anyone due to their sexual orientation via adult preference is a bit odd to me.
First off do we need to know your straight or gay.
If you do a great job that is the point.
Prejudices are just that....and outer extension of a formed opinion that says.
I am of this mindset be it in favor or radically oppose!
And Choice in abortion is all about America having freedom.
Too bad adults don't better teach their children birth control options.
Rape is by far the worst for men and women both.
The nuance's of living can be subtle and self fulfilling for many.
Choosing healthy ideas and sticking to what is honest and feels good for you with some regard for others is key. We all human and drama can sink a ship in a second.
Participating in life is part of the journey.
No fairytale here..just real life stuff that is the lessons and path.
Its easy to be critical of others and to play victim be it gay, or straight or just plain old un-happy.
No one but ourselves can make us happy.
Don' t put your happiness in the hands of others.
You will inevitably miss out.
One day at a time....Eckart Tolle s book again I recommend.
Being present is better than hanging on negative concepts that are most likely your own.
Find the good and it will find you.
HBO aired a show about Gays in the military.
I shot a cover for NEWSWEEK of the a gay sailor and they used it in this show.
Naturally I missed the beginning but I did take a few snaps to share in favor of respecting humans right to choose their sexual preference.
As a journalist every day I work for an editor and magazine job its a gift.
I have learned so much about the world by entering the lives of strangers.

KEITH MEINHOLD had served 12 years in the Navy when he outed himself on ABC's World News Tonight on May 19, 1992, to fight the ban. Discharged, then reinstated by a court, he was the first openly gay man returned to active duty. The government chose not to appeal after losing at the Circuit Court level, and Meinhold served for four years as an out sailor before retiring with full military honors.
photography aired on HBO photographer unknown to me.

One World Many Ways.