Indigenous Gathering in the Heart of Coban.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

Expect the unexpected. As a traveler I lived by this mantra, as a photojournalist even more so.

Having traversed much of Guatemala by bus and boat, we landed in the Colonial City of Coban, in the heart of Guatemala, hoping to take a couple days respite before pushing north into the Peten Region. The colonial cities of South and Central America have always held my imagination, for their age, character, and historical significance, something that one can by no means avoid noticing. Cobblestone streets and battered storefronts, a plaza central with its beautiful, haggard and resilient plumage, the Catholic Churches surrounded by stately government buildings, architectural indicators of a past glory.

For all of the above reasons, I was more than eager to set out into the streets of Coban, as the day cooled and evening set in.

It was by good fortune that we arrived in the days leading up to an annual indigenous gathering held in the plaza each year, drawing artist, musicians, and dancers from all the far flung regions of the Mayan world, and particularly those from the heartland of Guatemala itself. This sort of energy and excitement is what drives me as a photographer, and the opportunities to connect with people and create instant relationships become very real.

This young man of Mayan decent, is a jeweler and a musician. I had visited with him and his travelling companions earlier in the day, photographed their public performance, a vibrant, spontaneous tribute to those singing and dancing on the street corner.

This image was captured much later, a more personal moment, one I was able to share as an outsider having gained a certain degree of trust in the early hours of the cultural celebration.

When you photograph around people do you set out to make immediate photographs or do you use the camera to create relationships, perhaps cultivating a more intimate image over time?


El Amor al Lago: Part I

Photographs © Emily Stoltz 2010.

Some images from our wedding reception held at our home in Valliceto Lake, amongst amazing friends and family….I must say that Emily Stoltz did an amazing job at capturing the moment..and for that we share our gratitude. This series will continue with the next post ..featuring another edit of images from this tremendous weekend among friends & family!

Photography by Emily Stoltz

Visit Emily’s Website: e. Stoltz~Design & Photography

Much Love, Jeremy

Chimney Rock: Pueblo History Within the Southern Ute Landscape.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

Chimney Rock: Pueblo History Within the Southern Ute Landscape
Text and Photographs: Jeremy Wade Shockley
Southern Ute Drum Vol.XLII No.17

Piercing the summer sky, two stone formations known as Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, define the ridge where Ancestral Puebloans built Kivas and erected ceremonial sites for religious and astronomical purposes. The rock formations have served as geographical markers for centuries, guiding the Spaniards north from Mexico, as well as the miners who later sought silver and gold in the region. Early bands of nomadic Utes also looked to the twin towers as landmarks, ancestors of the Southern Ute Indians, who’s land surrounds present day Chimney Rock.

The Chimney Rock Archaeological Area sits on 4,100 acres of San Juan National Forest land surrounded by the Southern Ute Reservation. The land was proclaimed National Forest Reserve by President Theodore Roosevelt at the turn of the century and designated an Archaeological Area and National Historic Site in 1970.

The Chimney Rock prehistoric structures were constructed roughly between AD 1000 and 1100, according to Elizabeth Ann Morris, Professor Emerita, Colorado State University. Morris also states that the inhabitants of the site were ancestors of one or more of the modern Puebloan tribes such as: Hopi, Zuni, Jemez, Acoma, Taos, Picuris, or another of the Rio Grande Pueblo Tribes.

An annual cultural gathering is held at the Chimney Rock site each summer, where tribes with ancestral roots to the Chimney Rock inhabitants return to dance in the traditional way. Kivas are opened up for these ceremonies and access given to dancers and singers participating in the cultural gathering. The gatherings are held each year and open to the public as well as other indigenous dancers who perform just out side of the restricted archaeological sites.

Here there is a strong connection with the peoples and architecture of Chaco Canyon, a major trade center, located over the border and ninety-five miles to the southwest in what is now the State of New Mexico. Chaco is thought to have been a site designed as an astrological center, perhaps for observing the sun’s patterns and for recording, understanding, and interpreting the growing seasons and calendar cycles. It is also thought that perhaps Chimney Rock served a similar purpose in regards to the moon and its rising patterns. During what is known as the Major Lunar Standstill, the full moon can be seen by the naked eye, rising directly between the two pinnacles of stone that define Chimney Rock.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

The natural rock formations can easily be seen from modern day reservation lands, as one is fishing at lake Capote to the East, or travelling past on Highway 160. The twin towers stand above the horizon line, a geographic marker throughout history, now a monument to the past. There is no doubt that the early Ute bands that frequented this region would have used the spires as a landmark.

Other involvements between the early Utes and the Chimney Rock site, or its ancient people, remain a mystery. “My understanding is that the arrival of the Utes in this region occurred almost 200 to 400 years after the Ancestral Puebloans left,” said Les Linton, a longstanding staff member at the archaeological site. Morris agrees, early in the 1100’s the Ancestral Puebloans moved away from Chimney Rock Cuesta and the immediate surrounding valleys.

As geographical fate would have it, this historic site now borders the sovereign nation of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. It is clear that the land on which we live has seen great cultural and geographical shifts throughout the ages. We may never completely understand the complex history of this landscape or those who lived on it before us, but we can appreciate the significance of the site and the role it has played in shaping this region.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

The Historic Fire Lookout, which sits at 7, 600 feet, is set for removal by the end of this season, in hopes of returning the site to its original state.

Native American Journalism Association: 2010 Media Awards

On the nature of awards…certainly a subject of value as we progress through a world of photography and journalism. As a freelance photographer I didn’t seek out too many awards for myself, inevitably I was focusing of generating content and moving forward.

A certain benefit of being affiliated with any publication, newspaper or magazine, is that the prospect of winning awards of very real. Entry fees are less daunting, the process is built into the day to day curriculum at the office, and most importantly you are putting your self out there as a team.

Everyone in the office puts their best work forward, and with the consensus of fellow staffers, prints are shipped along with the relevant editorial pieces. Then the wait, but with that comes introspection and an awareness that every time you go out in the field to craft a feature story for publication, that the very work you are about to create could be a contender for the next round of editorial critic!

With two feature stories and a half dozen images submitted to this years NAJA awards, I was pleased to have garnered a few of the accolades on behalf of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

Best Photo Categories

Best Feature Photo: 3rd Place

Jeremy Wade Shockley, Photographer/Reporter, The Southern Ute Drum, “Bear Dance”

Best Photo Categories

Best News Photo: 3rd Place

Jeremy Wade Shockley, Photographer/Reporter, The Southern Ute Drum, “Bennett Thompson”

Associate Categories

News Story (Print): 2nd Place

Jeremy Wade Shockley, Photographer, The Southern Ute Drum, “Solix: Fueling a Better World”