Photographing the modern Native American experience

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photographer Pamela J. Peters had an epiphany when, as a UCLA student, she watched a restored 1961 film, “The Exiles” by Kent MacKenzie.  The neo-realist work depicted young Native Americans on Los Angeles’ historic Bunker Hill in a way Peters had never seen in film before: As dimensional individuals, not as stereotypes.

“People say, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know there were Native Americans in Los Angeles,'” said Peters, who grew up on a Navajo reservation in Red Valley, Arizona and arrived in Los Angeles at age 17.  “It’s baffling when I hear that.”

The film has been an influence on her creative work ever since and helped catalyze her lifelong zeal to convey the modern American Indian experience authentically.