In 2007, photographer Adrain Chesser attended a Native American ceremony called the Naraya in Short Mountain, Tennessee, where he became acquainted with Finisia Medrano and J.P. Hartsong. Both lived as hunter-gatherers in the Great Basin, a part of the United States encompassing parts of Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and California.
“It was at a time in my life when, due to medical conditions, I felt trapped in a system of employment, health insurance, and Western medicine that I was dependent upon to keep me so called alive and healthy,” Chesser told Vice magazine.
Chesser then moved to Seattle so he could regularly visit the duo, who formed a group of like minded folks who were also committed to living a free existence in the wild. Before long, Chesser had spent six years following and documenting their group, sometimes referred to as “Coyote Camp.” Chesser also followed other similar groups for the book.
My soul needed images of people living wild and free, untethered from society, specifically people whose life experience reflected my own feelings of being ‘other.’
~ Adrain Chesser
Traveling with the seasons, the subjects of The Return use traditional hunter-gatherer skills along with knowledge of indigenous food crops to follow an ancient way of life known as “the Hoop.”
The group of people Chesser photographed for The Return are not indigenous Native Americans.
Most of them carry European ancestry, and are, in one form or another, from the disenfranchised margins of mainstream America,” said Timothy White Eagle, with whom Chesser collaborated on the book.
“All believe that major shifts are needed in the way modern society interacts with the natural world. And all are willing pioneers, stepping off into uncertain terrain and searching for something lost generations ago.”
Visit Adrain Chesser’s website.
All photographs in this post are property of Adrain Chesser and can be found in his book, The Return, which can be purchased on Amazon.