Largely self-taught photographer Adrain Chesser recently received much attention for his moving series, I Have Something to Tell You, in which he documented his loved ones’ reactions as he told them the news of his having tested positive for HIV and been diagnosed with AIDS. Another of his projects, The Return, may not be as affecting, but is tender and emotive; an examination of life in a different way.

From 2006 to 2012 and in collaboration with Native American ritualist Timothy White Eagle, Chesser  traveled with a group of fierce individuals who wish to embody the ideal of living a symbiotic relationship with the Earth, based on the life way of early Native Americans. The subjects of The Return, a loosely banded tribe of people living nomadically throughout the western states of Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon, utilize traditional hunter-gatherer skills along with the knowledge of indigenous food crops, to follow an ancient way of life known as “the Hoop.”

Chesser’s portraits and documentary images of his subjects’ way of life are gorgeous and compelling. I am particularly drawn to the photographs depicting how these people work, with their hands, so closely with the manifestations of nature upon which they depend for survival.

The Return was published as a book last spring by Daylight; it is available for sale here.

From a statement by Timothy White Eagle on Chesser’s website: The subjects in “The Return” are predominately not indigenous Native Americans. Most carry European ancestry. And most come in one form or another from the disenfranchised margins of main stream America. Most are poor, some are queer, some are trans-gendered, some are hermits and some are politically radical. All believe that major shifts are needed in the way modern society interacts with the natural world. And all are willing pioneers, stepping off into uncertain terrain searching for something lost generations ago. These new Heroes are on a journey. Like all great heroes, what they desire is to simply return home. For them home is a wild garden; an ideal, a way of life, a return to what once was. The wild garden is a place the human soul knows.  Every person has ancestors who lived in that wild garden, it is a universal thing we share.

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Found via: Feature Shoot