“Breaking Barriers with Matika Wilbur: The Inspiring Journey of a Native American Photographer” 

 January 23, 2023


Breaking barriers is never an easy feat, but for Matika Wilbur, a Native American photographer, that is exactly what she is doing. Her story is one of inspiration, as she battled against the stereotypes and innuendos about her culture to make a name for herself in the world of photography.


Matika Wilbur was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1984. She is both a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, and her journey towards photography started when she was teaching at Tulalip Heritage High School on the Tulalip reservation. It was here that she realized the power of photography to document the Native American experience and culture.

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Matika Wilbur holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the Art Institute of Seattle. She continues to learn and grow her craft, undertaking photography workshops and attending forums and conferences whenever possible.


Matika Wilbur has worked on a range of photography projects, including solo exhibitions, group shows, and collaborations with other artists. She is perhaps best known for her project entitled “Project 562”, which aimed to photograph every federally recognized Native American tribe in North America.

Project 562

Project 562 is a groundbreaking initiative by Matika Wilbur to create photographic portraits of Native American people in all of the 562 recognized tribes in the United States. Her mission was not just to document the diversity of the tribes but to challenge the long-held stereotype of Native Americans.

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Matika Wilbur’s work has been displayed in galleries and museums across the United States and beyond. Her solo exhibitions include such notable institutions as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Portland Art Museum, and the Tacoma Art Museum.


Matika Wilbur has received numerous awards and honors for her work in photography. These include the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award at the Santa Fe Fashion Show, the Native Arts and Culture Foundation Artist Fellowship, and the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art.


Matika Wilbur’s legacy is already significant. She has inspired a new generation of Native American photographers and challenged the mainstream media’s representation of her culture. Her work seeks to empower Native Americans and give voice to their stories in a way that has never been done before.

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Matika Wilbur’s work as a photographer has been nothing short of groundbreaking. Her project, “Project 562,” has challenged the way Native American people are perceived in the mainstream media and given voice to those who have been silenced for far too long. Her career is a testament to the power of art, and her legacy will continue to inspire others to break barriers and create change.


Q1. What is Project 562?

Project 562 is a photographic initiative by Matika Wilbur to document every federally recognized Native American tribe in North America.

Q2. What inspired Matika Wilbur to take up photography?

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Wilbur’s inspiration came from a desire to document the Native American experience and culture through the power of photography.

Q3. What awards has Matika Wilbur won for her photography?

Wilbur has won numerous awards, including the Native Arts and Culture Foundation Artist Fellowship and the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art.

Q4. What is Matika Wilbur’s legacy?

Wilbur’s legacy has been one of challenging stereotypes and empowering Native American people through art and storytelling.

Q5. What has been Matika Wilbur’s most significant contribution to photography?

Wilbur’s most significant contribution to photography has been her project, “Project 562,” which has documented the diversity of Native American tribes and challenged the media’s representation of Native Americans.

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