Ilka Hartmann Photography

In activism, AIM, alcatraz, American Indian, photography, positive portrayals by Adrienne K.1 Comment

I was pointed to this link via Julia on Twitter (thanks!), and I absolutely love Hartmann’s images. She has a large collection of photos on her site, not just of Natives, but I think her most striking images are the ones of urban Indians and AIM leaders from the 1970’s and early 80’s. I also love that most of the images are from the Bay Area, the place that I called home for the last 6 years–though it does make me a little homesick.

After the jump, more photos and a short video of Hartmann talking about her exhibition in SF which included images from the Alcatraz occupation, AIM events, and the longest walk 1978 (I also included links at the bottom for more information about the history behind the images).

This is the video of Hartmann walking us through her photos, highlighting some of the major events in AIM history that she documented. It’s actually really cool to hear her talk about the images, the context, and her relationships with the subjects, it makes them even more powerful.

More pictures:

Philipp Deere, Medicine Conference,
Intertribal Friendship House, Oakland, CA, 1979

Dance Class
Intertribal Friendship House, Oakland, CA

Baby Boy
Intertribal Friendship House, Oakland, CA

In addition to the urban Indian photos, I was drawn to the images from a sunrise ceremony on Alcatraz before the Longest Walk (more info on that here), because they remind me of the ceremony we attended every year on Alcatraz in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day. It adds a whole new layer of meaning and a stronger feeling of solidarity to the event.

What I like most is that the images offer counter-narratives to many of the commonly held stereotypes about Natives, and give some insight into the often forgotten community of urban Indians, as well as the often overlooked Indian involvement in the civil rights movement. With such simple photographs Hartmann manages to capture so much emotion and history. Her work is very refreshing after the hundreds of negative images and stereotypes we see everyday.  

Definitely go check out her site, and please note that all images I posted are (c) Ilka Hartmann and can be found at:

Ilka Hartmann Photography:

History of the AIM movement:

Alcatraz occupation information:

(Thanks Julia!)
  • Great review of Ilka Hartmann’s work. THere’s nothing like the way it captures people, history, spirit. I watched Louise Erdrich being interviewed by Bill Moyers last night, and it gave great meaning to Ilka’s work and this blog. Is there any way to connect you all? Does Erdrich know Ilka’s work, I wonder? Thanks for the great blog.