Lauren is clear as crystal and just as striking. When Lauren speaks she is precise and articulate. She's just brilliant to talk to because she listens and engages. Her speech reflects her strong character, and Lauren is strong in every way that counts. You know that with your first interaction.
There is no laziness with Lauren. Not with her choices or her lifestyle.
She is dedicated and driven and decisive.
Getting to photograph Lauren was intense, and there is nothing negative about that.
Her photoshoot was intense because Lauren is every bit of herself all the time. She knows what she wants, she knows what she likes, and she speaks it with clarity and goodness.
I'm not surprised by any of this knowing what I know about Lauren's heritage.
She is strong and capable because she was raised with strong capable women.
She is beautiful because every cell of who she is was sculpted to reflect her divinity.
Lauren is . . .
she's sunlight on a July day, she's frost on clear glass in winter . . . she adds beautiful intensity to everything around her.
Lauren is striking and unforgettably distinct.
You notice her because she will accept nothing less . . . her heritage will accept nothing less.
You have honored me, Lauren. You and those you carry with you have honored me and I could not be more thankful.
"Identity. Onyota’a:ka´. I am Wolf Clan - Oneida, Haudenosaunee, First Nations. I am indigenous and resilient. My appreciation for where I come from has shaped me into the strong, independent, humanitarian woman I am today. I fondly remember growing up eating our traditional foods, participating in traditional ceremonies, knowing our medicines, and learning to respect the land, water, and Earth we live on. These memories and experiences are irreplaceable.
Another identity that has deeply affected my community and identity is the ugly and unforgivable existence of cultural genocide and assimilation on indigenous peoples.
My great-great-grandmother was one of over 150,000 children forcibly removed from their homes between 1883-1996 and sent to Government funded residential schools. She was forcibly removed from the Onondaga Reservation and sent to the Carlisle Indian school in 1912. The sole purpose of these “schools” was to “kill the Indian in the child” and to try and strip away their ancestral knowledge. She was the last surviving Oneida to attend.
Despite her time there she managed to speak four Haudenosaunee languages, was a talented indigenous beader, studied the law and fought the Supreme Court over the Oneida Land Claims, and was an advocate and trailblazer for her community. I had the greatest honor to have known her for the first eleven years of my life. She was fierce, resilient, and is a continuous inspiration to me as an indigenous woman. Her life and wisdom continues to fuel my strength, confidence, and want for a better world. Although she is no longer physically here, I know she walks with me every day.
I come from a long lineage of remarkable indigenous matriarchs and men since time immemorial. I strive every day to listen and live the wisdom my ancestors have instilled in me. Their sacrifices and prayers for the seven generations are never forgotten. I did this shoot to honor her and the countless matriarchs that inspire me every day. To show my indigenous beauty to the world and to inspire others to live their truths."
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