iPhone Travelogue: Crossing the San Luis Valley.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2012.

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Traditions live on in Buffalo Harvest.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/The Southern Ute Drum

By Jeremy Wade Shockley

The Southern Ute Drum

A young bison was blessed and harvested under the traditional guidance of the Fort Lewis Buffalo Council on Saturday, March 17, as part of an annual three-day ceremony.

The spirit of the harvest is to promote food sovereignty and education under the guidance of the Buffalo Council and participating tribal elders.

“It really strengthens us as students,” said Amoretta Pringle, president of the Buffalo Council.

The three-day ceremony included a sweat lodge, prayer, bison harvest, and distribution of medicine, finishing in Durango on Sunday with a presentation by longtime Native American activist Russell Means, who voiced the importance of truth and sovereignty to his audience.

This year’s ceremony coincides with the 100th year anniversary of Fort Lewis College, according to organizers.

In recent years, the Buffalo Harvest has taken place at the site of the historic Fort Lewis Indian School near Hesperus, Colo. This year, the event moved to a neighboring ranch house owned and operated by Bill and Virginia Crangle. The Crangles have made Hesperus their home since 1974, and have hosted the Buffalo Council on numerous occasions, giving them a place to perform the ceremonies.

Manuelito “Chief” Garbiso is one of the more recent members to the council and a Fort Lewis alumnus.

“Basically everything goes back to the community,” he said, explaining that the meat will be parceled out to families who qualify, and whatever remains will be used for fundraising events, cooking the bison meat to benefit the community.

The young bison was trucked in from Oklahoma. Raised on a ranch, he was culled from a herd numbering in the hundreds. Michael Mithlo, owner of the company Mighty Good Bison, has delivered a buffalo to the council for the traditional harvest on numerous occasions.

Mithlo, a pragmatic and knowledgeable man with a clear understanding of the butchering process, is of the Comanche and Chiricahue Apache nations. He said it’s good to keep a few bulls in together and let them fight, because it helps build testosterone. He also noted that thick meat on the ribs is a sign of a healthy animal with strong genes.

Nathan Strong Elk was one of a handful of Southern Utes who attended the annual harvest, offering a blessing over the animal once it arrived. Strong Elk emphasized the importance of calming the animal to prepare it for harvest after such a long journey.

The sound of drums could be heard around the early morning campfires, mingling with the smell of burning cedar in the air and the singing of the young participants who would soon harvest the buffalo.

A pair of gunshots broke the still morning silence. Members of the Buffalo Council and their helpers began to cut and clean the great bison, heaving his mass onto tarps.

While the men used knives and tools to section the meat, women worked in teams to separate the vital organs and entrails, each with its own place and purpose, its own destination. Practical efficiency was evident in the collaborative process.

Neighboring dogs became less shy, stealing away with the occasional discard. The winter sun began to warm the ground as expert hands worked in traditional ways.

Rodeo.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2012.

A subject that has intrigued me from an early age. My western roots, combined with the dust and leather of these particularly nostalgic events…cowboy culture to the core.
I have seen many and even photographed a few western rodeos in my day. Bulls, broncs, and even mutton bustin‘ make for action packed images..literally packed into a few seconds once they open the gates.
Like any event that I cover, the bulk of my attention is focused on the lifestyle surrounding that event, the fringes if you like. A few years back, I used my press pass at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial to spend a few hours covering the Dine ‘Navajo’ Rodeo. Shooting the fringes here was no exception. Using a short lens and plenty of personal interaction, I was able to shoot the bull riders as they prepared for their eight second ride, both mentally and physically.
More rodeos are in my future as I continue to document the American West…camera in hand.
Keep checkin‘ in. Best, Jeremy

The Love of Jazz, Street Photography and a Fast Prime. Shooting Available Light with the Fifty.




A visit to my favorite Denver hangout…the El Chapultepec Jazz Club.
A subject I have pursued for years. There is a place and time for flash photography, and there are certain atmospheres that are pure and wonderful. Untouched by flash, I shot the available light here using a 50mm F1.4 prime lens on Nikon’s D7000 body…fast, simple, and above all, unobtrusive.




Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2012.

Enjoy the Post! Cheers…Jeremy

National Geographic Photographer Ed Kashi on Visual Storytelling…with Passion & Purpose!



Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2012.

In my last post I introduced Ed Kashi and his Eye Contact exhibition in Denver, Colorado.
Posted here are a few selected photos from Kashi’s workshop, Visual Storytelling with Passion and Purpose…
An excellent blend of presentation and information, the day was filled with a glimpse into Ed Kashi’s own work, his words, and the conversation driven by audience participation, photo critique and one-on-one dialogue.
Excellent workshop all around…Thank you Ed!
Published books include: Aging in America, Curse of the Black Gold, and Three…among others.
Powerful images, strong narrative; clearly created with both passion and purpose.
Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2012.