This is a record of a people and their lives offering an incredibly historically valuable document and a unique entree to a time and place. Today the Navajos comprise the largest group of Native Americans (140,000 members) and live on more than 16 million acres. In "Navajo Nation 1950", Jonathan Wittenburg was been granted exclusive access into this culture at a pivotal time - an era which has not been documented in this way ever before. The photographs include not just portraiture of individuals, but daily activities, the landscape and special events celebrated and usually hidden from a public eye, such as the Enemy Way (a combination healing ceremony and social dance) - when two competing groups of singers reverberate back and forth on canyon walls in a dazzling fugue. Wittenberg is as perceptive a writer as viewer, making the text and artwork a beautiful and unique tapestry of his personal experience and the experiences of the inhabitants of the reservation; all with an eye to the bigger picture of the time - the changing landscape for Native Americans and continuation of their culture.
Jonathan Wittenberg is Professor Emeritus of Physiology and Biophysics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. His photographs are in the permanent collection of the Hurd Museum in Phoenix, Arizona as well as the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona.