Here’s a small edit from a recent bit of work that’s part of my ongoing Montana project. The Rocky Boy powwow is a long-standing event and some of the Montana’s best dancers are from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. The community, Montana’s smallest reservation, is also one of the youngest populations in the United States. The area is relatively isolated: it’s 20 miles from Havre, which hardly qualifies as a big city at just under 10,000, and nearly 100 miles to Great Falls, one of Montana’s largest cities at around 60,000. And while the reservation certainly has its problems, there’s hope. The local college seems to have recently been renovated and expanded, the tribe opened a casino which will provide some jobs and money, and the reservation’s infrastructure seems to be constantly improving. The annual powwow, too, draws thousands from all over the United States, and it continues to grow.
I had surprisingly little difficulty during the shoot, despite hearing from some photographers that powwows in the southwest are pretty well off-limits to photographers. A few people asked me not to take pictures, a few wondered what I was doing exactly… Compared with other years when I’ve been at the powwow, however, I was surprised at the number of cameras wielded by the spectators. Everyone seemed to have a small camera in their pocket and quite a few people were recording the singing competition on digital or analog audio recorders. I suppose that all makes the atmosphere for photography a bit more welcoming than not.