USA Pro Cycle Challenge. Durango, Colorado.

Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley/The Southern Ute Drum

Durango hosted the first stage of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, hailed as one of the largest cycling events in North America, on Monday, Aug. 20. The race will take riders through the Rockies and into the state capital. 

Visit The Southern Ute Drum online for full photo coverage of the race start including vibrant images of the Southern Ute heritage dancers giving a cultural performance before race spectators in the heart of Durango. 

Spring Celebration – 48th Annual Hozhoni Days Powwow returns to Durango, Colorado.

Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley/The Southern Ute Drum

I shot my first powwow at Fort Lewis College over five years ago, immediately gaining an invitation to make pictures later that year in the picturesque Red Rocks Park during the Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial. My goal was to document cultures in the region where I grew up having returned to the area as a working professional, seeking out long term projects, assignments.

It was the portfolio from that summer that opened the door to my current position as staff photographer for the Southern Ute Drum newspaper.

We just published a double powwow section last week that included recent images from Hozhoni Days, as I have been back to cover this small, social powwow every year since that first. Striving each time to come away with something that will set my work apart from previous years…

Enjoy the Images! Best, Jeremy

Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley/The Southern Ute Drum

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.

Creative Non-Fiction: Week Two.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

The soft spongy earth and high grass soaked my shoes immediately. A thick heavy mist hung over the landscape- I had come north to Cajas for the streams. Cuenca with its dense population and cobble stone streets was foreign to me, but the rhythm of casting a fly rod, reading the current, transcended time and place- taking me from the high Andes back to the Vallicito valley. My mind at ease in the new surroundings.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

They say change is inevitable, that tourism will be the new economy. I prefer to remember it as it was- the community that gave it’s self to my upbringing- following the cobblestone streets in the footsteps of my grandfather. Patiently listening as he spoke to the other fisherman in his daily routine.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

The extreme heat was inhospitable, the landscape thundered in my ears. Adrenalin coursed through my veins making the experience bearable, almost distant. I was assured that the high ridge was safe, running like a black spine above the sea of fire and fury below. My instinct was to flee – eyes fixed on the molten earth.

These excerpts are part of the in class writing assignments that seek to emulate creative non fiction, each excerpt written in under two minutes. Our instructor, the renowned William R. Gray, teaches various courses on the art of prose throughout the year. As a photojournalist, I feel that mastering the English language, and how it is written plays a very strong role in the field of photojournalism.

Spotlight on Wes Studi.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

Wes Studi Graces Fort Lewis College
By Rachel Beckelhymer

Wes Studi strutted onto the stage with all the air of a true movie star. He had every reason to feel proud, as the honored lecturer at the 2009 Fort Lewis College Native American Presidential Lecture Series, at the Community Concert Hall in Durango, Colorado. The annual lecture in honor of Native American Heritage Month highlights a Native American luminary, and Wes Studi was up to the challenge as he spun yarns for a packed house on Thursday evening, November 5. After sharing the colorful stories from his life, he stayed to pose for numerous photographs with school children, Southern Ute Royalty, and many happy fans.

The Cherokee actor, activist, author, and Vietnam War Veteran, sauntered to a generous black leather chair, his black leather jacket glistened in the bright lights as he went. “I’d like to make myself more comfortable,” he said as he began to disrobe. He ceremoniously unbuttoned his white shirt and slowly undid his black silk neck scarf. Lounging casually with crossed legs and a microphone poised for storytelling in his left hand, he began.

“Some of you may remember the days when the only phones we had were attached to walls.” Wes Studi shared experiences from his life, like his years in Vietnam, “Not a pleasant experience.” And what it was like when he returned. “I came back at a time where there was a lot of unrest.” He said, but he found welcome in the Indian community. “I think that’s something Indians do well. No matter what people thought about the war, they welcomed us back and realized that, ‘these are our young men’ ”

Born in Oklahoma, at No Fire Hollow, in the Cherokee Nation, his family moved around frequently, “I became a wondering man at that point, at [age] seven.” After the war he attended Bacon College. But, “I never had a passion for what I did…then I discovered acting.” It was in Tulsa Oklahoma, at the American Indian Theater Company. “I went, and I looked in and saw like eight women and two men. “Hey, I like these odds,” and that’s how I got started.”

His first of 60 films was, Powwow Highway. He can be seen as Magua, in Last of the Mohicans, and in the films Geronimo, The Only Good Indian, Avatar, and Dances with Wolves. When asked if he could make any movie, he said he’d like to try Othello, on the Rez. After answering audience questions, he left the stage with a command, “Go out, and live your dreams.”

Visit the latest Southern Ute Drum Newspaper Online HERE to see more on Wes Studi.

Hozhoni Days

Photographs, rendered in black and white, attain a sense of timelessness illustrated in this collection of portraits taken during the 44th Annual Hozhoni Days Pow Wow at Fort Lewis College. The Ceremony Embraces Spirituality, Tradition, and Friendship through Song and Dance. Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2008.