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The Red Road Project
Making up barely 1% of the total American population, Native American people are often overlooked and their voices not heard. These people still suffer a sort of forced segregation at the very bottom of American society. For more than a century, they have survived some of the most horrific events in American history, including cultural genocide.
The “boarding school era” began in the late 1800s and was designed to assimilate Native Americans into Euro-American culture while offering a basic education. The motto was: “kill the Indian, but save the man.” Native children were taken from their homes and family, forced to cut their hair, speak English and discard their traditional dress. They were severely punished if they practiced any of their traditions or spoke their Native tongue. By the 1970s, there were still thousands of indigenous children enrolled in boarding schools. Generations of Natives that passed through those schools were left dealing with immense traumas of abuse, neglect and separation from family and culture. This led to high rates of suicide, substance and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and violence, and other health disparities.
You will often hear Native Americans say they are walking ‘the red road’ which identifies them as being on the path to positive change, contrary to all the surrounding issues the people often still struggle with today. The purpose of “The Red Road Project” is to explore the relationship between traditional Native American culture and the identity of tribal people today.
Carlotta Cardana (1981, Verbania, Italy) is an Italian portrait and documentary photographer based in London. After obtaining a degree in Fine Arts and a photography diploma, she lived in Argentina and Mexico City, where she started freelancing as an editorial photographer.
Danielle SeeWalker is the writer on this project. Danielle’s grandmother was a boarding school child and was the last generation to speak their Lakota language fluently.