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For the past ten years, I have been working on an ongoing photographic essay on the contemporary life of my tribe, the Ho Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. I hope to give both the tribe and the outside world a perspective from someone who comes from within the Ho Chunk community, creating a new understanding of how the Ho Chunk live in the twenty-first century. By doing so, I strive to educate the outside world about the tribe, giving access to experiences and places that the non-Ho Chunk would normally be deprived of.

Historically it has been outsiders who have taken these photographs of Native Americans. We have generally been represented with beads and feathers; this example can be seen through the extraordinary photographic portrayals of Edward Curtis. While this is an aspect of our life the emphasis of my current body of work is focused on the members of my tribe and the environments in which they live, giving a name and face to the individuals and their way of life in our own time. Like many Native Americans the Ho Chunk People still adhere to traditional ways in spite of adapting to the white culture that surrounds them.

First and foremost, I am ever mindful of my responsibility to the tribe and to carry on a sense of pride about who and what we are as a people.

Tom Jones

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