Maria Sturm – You Don’t Look Native to Me

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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.

Maria Sturm (born 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.

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