I have had the honor and privilege of photographing this beautiful young woman in her cultural regalia for her high school senior portraits. To tell you about her I have asked her mother Kamimi Ogemahgeshig-Estavillo to write in her words their heritage and about the clothing in this photo shoot. Here are her words about her daughter Wakeena and Wakeena’s heritage:
“Wakeena Redsky DeLaCruz is Quinault and Squaxin from the Northwest coastal nations and Anishinabe from the Eastern woodlands region. Wakeena has participated in canoe journeys since a young girl on the canoe Haynisisoos, which was named after her Uncle Phillip Martin Sr. She skippered this canoe (pictured) for the first time on the last canoe journey to Squaxin Island. Wakeena’s regalia is representative of her coastal and Anishinaabe ancestry. The cape design consists of a winged Eagle (zaagi) which is her Anishinaabe family clan (dodem). The buttons on the robe are representative of Anishinaabe fire signs, the buttons on the tail wing represent the council of three fires, the buttons along the body represent seventh generation and the four in the heart of the Eagle represent balance consistent with the four directions. Wakeena actively participates in her coastal nations traditions through drum and dance group, and is now in preparation to start jingle dance from Anishinaabe which will also be shown in her senior pictures. These photos taken are consistent with who Wakeena is and the traditional values she has carried and exemplified through her life. Participating in canoe journeys, drum and dance, potlatch, and jingle dance are very important aspects of her life and these photos represent who she is as a young Native American woman.”
This particular photoshoot is a series of three or four different shoots I will be bringing to you. As mentioned Wakeena is now in preparation to start jingle dance from Anishinaabe. Her grandmother is currently working on her jingle dress. We have some other shoots in the works to bring that to you and a few other very special images as well.
These photo sessions are dear to my heart and that of my family because of my husband and our children being Northwest Coastal Natives as well. The regalia with the button blanket is something that we are very familiar with ~ something we hold dear to our hearts. The art is a part of our home too which you will see represented on the canoe. There is symbolism and legends to the art you see on the blankets, canoes, totems, long houses. As you can see from Kamimi’s words, even the buttons have meaning. My husband often includes the legend to the art that he draws (which can be found at WilkeronArt.com). Culture is a huge part of our life, so bringing this to you is more that just a thrill of a life time, it is a sacred honor. Thank you Wakeena and Kamimi. Thank you to all those that also helped in putting this shoot together.
I will start out with the unloading of the canoe and the owner Phil Martin Sr. with his wife Lynnell Martin.
There were others there helping. I wish I had more images with everyone in it so you all have your proper thanks. My gratitude is with all of you!
We were at the Point Grenville beach (which is currently in the process of being renamed to a native name that holds significance to the Quinault tribe). This next image pictures Point Grenville behind Wakeena.
The button blanket in the images above is Wakeena’s. The button blanket below in the next few images is that of her sister, Tashia Sky Delacruz.
Here you can see Wakeena wearing a traditional Northwest Coast hand woven hat. The next image was done so that you can see the design of the front of the canoe as well. I love the look of the canoes from all the different tribes. Often you will see a similar piece on many canoes. It sometimes goes along with the name of the canoe, or the crest of the clan, or just a legend that speaks to the canoe maker or family. I felt the angle here not only showed it while capturing Wakeena very flatteringly, but it also gave you a better view of the different paddles. Some useful and others for design as you can see with the artwork.
Of coarse ~ I love to play with different lenses. My fisheye gives such a fun view on life and worked wonders here. The first image here is awesome because it has some of my equipment and Wakeena’s mother with 2 sisters. I see this and just love that we caught this moment. (I am weird that way – where I love the back behind the scenes shots hahaha.)
In this next image Tashia (Wakeena’s sister) if straitening the heirloom necklace for the following shot. At that moment her mother Kamimi told me that the necklace there is close to 150 years old or older and had been in their family this entire time.
The colors of the sky and the beach are ever changing. Wakeena out on the beach near sunset was no less than breathtakingly stunning. She was such a trooper and it has all paid off beautifully.
I am looking forward to the next few sets from our series to be brought to all of you! Please feel free to leave love on the blog.
Thank you again to all involved. This is not just one moment in time. This is historical. Looking forward to the years events that are coming up and am grateful that all of you have touched my life.