Cavalier Lakota, Fort Robinson, Nebraska, USA 2016. © Zen Lefort

Indian Land

Zen Lefort

2016 – 2019 — USA

About this series

I first encountered Native American peoples at Standing Rock, North Dakota, in 2016. During those long winter months, thousands of “natives,” as they are called across the Atlantic, fought to preserve their ancestral lands threatened by bulldozers.
This David versus Goliath confrontation fascinated me. The resilience of these warriors, untouched by neither the cold nor the harsh conditions, impressed me. I decided to stay by their side to learn more about their identity.
I wanted to understand how the first people of America live today. Since then, I have taken my questions to several states, inside many reservations, among different tribes (Sioux, Navajos, Zunis, Shoshones, Apaches, etc.). I’ve had the opportunity to photograph long rides on the plains, document religious ceremonies, and share precious moments of life with these men and women. Through this immersion, I have come to know a people with multiple facets, torn between the need to perpetuate their ancestral traditions and the natural desire to enjoy the modern comforts of their American fellow citizens.
Developing my photographs, I realized that the “natives” today are as comfortable on the back of a stallion as they are behind the wheel of a brand-new Ford pickup, that they wear eagle feathers as well as baseball caps from the Cleveland Indians, and that they appreciate both the socially conscious music of Johnny Cash and the traditional chants of a pow-wow on a summer evening. A century after Native Americans were granted U.S. citizenship, being a “native” in the United States still means having to juggle between two identities seemingly at odds with each other.

© Zen Lefort
© Zen Lefort
© Zen Lefort
Rodeo, Navajo Nation, Arizona , USA 2019. © Zen Lefort
© Zen Lefort
© Zen Lefort
© Zen Lefort
Allié, Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA 2019. © Zen Lefort
© Zen Lefort
Mike, Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA, 2019. © Zen Lefort

Photographer: Zen Lefort
Nationality: French
Based in: Paris, France
Instagram: @zenlefort