￼Photographs have spirits. In my 20 years as a photographer, I have witnessed many things that these spirits can do. Some are dangerous and cause pain or promote greedy behavior. Others are powerful, igniting social consciousness on a global scale. At their best, they have the ability to instill feelings of hope and pride in the hearts of human beings.
My values are rooted in O’Odham teachings and it took years of seeking guidance and consulting with spiritual mentors to realize that I could use photography as a means to share with our own people and mainstream society to positive, cutting edge, stylized images of Indigenous people, cultures, and communities. I could produce photographs which would raise social consciousness and awareness of Indigenous life on a global scale. This vision was not in any way a reaction to cultural appropriation that has been prevalent as of late. I did not pursue this art as a means to dispel negative stereotypes and pop culture's mishaps. I simply felt that it was important to bring light to the beauty, strength, intelligence and resiliency of the peoples and cultures that I witnessed at home and through my travels around Native country. I realized that it was okay to use non-Native technology to help our people grow in a way that is congruent with our sacred value systems. I looked at history and recognized that our people have always adapted to technology as it became further ingrained in our communities through colonialism and interaction with the Western world.
I give my gratitude to those who have believed in and supported my vision, and to those who have trusted me by allowing me to take their photographs. I do not take lightly the privilege and honor that comes with this.
I hope that you enjoy these photographs and that you recognize their spirits. May they arouse compassion in your hearts for my people, and may they send healing thoughts to your own.
Thosh Collins - Onk-Akimel O’Odham/ Haudenosaunee