In 1973, 23-year old George Legrady (2002 Emerging Fields) was invited by the Cree indigenous communities to photograph their way of life. The Cree people were about to enter negotiations to dispute a dam project that would flood land they had lived on for millennia. Recently, George received funding to digitally archive these photographs. Looking at them, I found a striking similarity between that moment in 1973 and the one we are living in now, as 280 First Nations tribes have convened to protest the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota. Wanting to learn more, I asked George to select a few images and share his experience.
I am a digital media artist who has worked with integrating computation with conceptual art and photography since the mid-1980s. I received a Creative Capital award in 2002 for a project called Speaking/Sensing Space.
My first major project as an artist began in 1973, when I visited the James Bay Cree indigenous communities in northern Quebec. I took about 3,200 photos while living with the Cree over the course of 8 to 12 weeks (about 41 images a day). The return visits which took place with two McGill University ethnographers and my art colleague, Andres Burbano from Bogota, provided insight as to how a culture changes over time.
In 2012, I received a National Science Foundation Arctic Social Science grant to digitize the photographs and revisit the Cree to present the images back to the communities. Of the existing photos, I have digitized and archived about 700 to be used by the Cree and ethnographers. Below is a selection of 3 x 3 clusters of images from 1973 with anecdotal comments.