Dugan Aguilar (Mountain Maidu/Pit River/Walker River Paiute), a man of few words, speaks his heart through his photography. With nature’s light and a camera, he creates images of indigenous California people, photographs that embody the depth of their subjects’ beauty, strength, and humor. His portraits of people, places, and ceremonies combine the intimacy of family photos with the technical skill of a masterful artist. His photographic works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and a generation of California Indian people have grown accustomed to seeing his photographs in their homes, museums, and News from Native California. Aguilar’s photos defy the romanticized and melodramatic images by which Native people are often depicted. Ranging from portraits of military veterans, basket makers, and dancers to meditative landscapes, Aguilar’s work documents—and contributes to—the perseverance and renewal of Native California’s living, vibrant cultures.
She Sang Me a Good Luck Song: The California Indian Photographs of Dugan Aguilar
Inside California’s Native Communities
“Being a Native American artist is to know the traditional view of the world celebrated in ceremony and song. The myths, legends and designs and symbols—plants, trees, animals, fish, and fowl help establish a spiritual relationship to the Earth. Dugan Aguilar’s family and the communal elders have helped him understand that difficulties and hardships can be overcome by love and patience. The images made by Dugan remind us that there are things that never change, and are worth remembering and believing.”—Frank LaPena, Nomtipom Wintu artist, professor emeritus, California State University, Sacramento
“Dugan’s photography embodies the ancient spirits of giving and sharing; it’s visual poetry that resonates through time with the land and the people gently, yet assertively.… Beautiful and insightful photographic storytelling for all people of the world.”—Larry McNeil, Tlingit photographer and scholar, professor of photography, Boise State University