Edition of 500
220 x 290 mm
In 2011, Maria Sturm began to photograph the lives of young people from the Lumbee Tribe around Pembroke, Robeson County, North Carolina. Through the process of documenting their lives, Sturm began to question her own understanding of what it means to be Native American. Her new book ‘You Don’t Look Native to Me’ combines photographs with interviews and texts to preconceptions and show Native identity not as fixed, but evolving and redefining itself with each generation.
Pembroke is the tribal seat of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the largest state-recognised tribe east of the Mississippi River. Although the Lumbee Tribe is state-recognised, they are federally unrecognised and do not have a reservation nor receive financial benefits from the federal government. The Lumbee name was voted for in 1952 to unite all tribes in the area in an attempt to gain federal recognition. Their tribal status remains one of the most debated in the United States.
Sturm’s photographs, at first glance, appear to depict the daily life of an archetypal American community. On closer inspection elements of hybridity between heritage and contemporary life are revealed—a street named ‘Dreamcatcher Drive’, a ‘Native Pride’ baseball cap with feathers, Halloween fangs on a Tuscarora child in regalia—in the town where nearly 90% of the population identify as Native. The protagonists of Sturm’s photographs present themselves as individuals with their own unique identities and shared culture. The presence of Native symbolism—on street signs, pictures on walls, on cars, on shirts and as tattoos—shows how a stereotypical image is often presented back to them. The book’s title ‘You Don’t Look Native to Me’ is borrowed from a quote familiar to many residents of Robeson County and encapsulates the discrepancy between their identity and preconceptions of others.
About the Artist
Maria Sturm (b. 1985, Romania) studied photography at the University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld, Germany and at the Rhode Island School of Design as a Fulbright and DAAD scholar. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Guardian, The Atlantic, der Spiegel and Zeit Magazin amongst others.
About the Publisher
Void is an independent publishing house dedicated to photography books and education. The project is driven by its founders Myrto Steirou and João Linneu. You might bump into Myrto, Void’s editor, at a book fair or festival in a far flung part of the globe, but you’ll usually find her in Greece, at their store in Athens. João, Void’s designer, is based in Reykjavík… it’s entirely possible that you may not meet him (in person at least). Void works with both established and up-and-coming artists, proudly fostering photographers’ debut books.
Void has collaborated with many international art institutions since we started, back in October 2016. In 2021 Void became one of Futures Photography’s members. Void is devoted to and passionate about the projects they undertake. In their books, you will find powerful stories and innovative design, melded together with fine and experimental material.