Looking for Rose, another trail of tears. Part I
I call myself a modern-day frontier mutt, the biological result of western expansion. My mother’s side is descendent of Ho-Chunk and my father’s side is part Navajo, then stir in some English, French, Dutch and Irish pioneer blood. The native side always kept my fascination. My relatives told stories about our kidnapped Navajo ancestor Grandma Daniels, my father’s great grandmother. Her captivating life story created fodder for my childhood mountain man daydreams, while through time, the reality of her hardships continue to humble my simple privileged life. Her name is Rose and her journey started with kidnapping, hostile native tribes, mormon frontiersmen and lost spanish gold mines.
For years I have wanted to make a personal photo project about Rose, but I was complexed by the challenge of creating images for a story about a Navajo child who was born in what was Mexico Territory in 1840. Many people have found her story interesting; there is an abundance of old photos, academic audio interviews, vintage magazine articles, and LDS Church reports on the internet and in the historical archives at the University of Utah. I even found actual copies of the 13th and 14th US Census recording her and her children.
I decided not to let the photo challenge stall my momentum and I blindly started my visual journey at the place where her life changed dramatically, Lee’s Ferry, Arizona. Curiosity and spontaneity guided me into the deserts around the Colorado River.