This past summer, upper school student Cheyenne ‘26 had the privilege of being chosen as one of the official photographers for The Peoples’ Juneteenth celebration which took place at Roosevelt Park on June 19, 2022. Planned by a coalition of Black community organizers, the event was a family-friendly protest and celebration centered around political education, fun activities, and amazing cultural performances from some of the best Black artists in New Mexico.
Cheyenne, who has been taking photos since the age of six, was excited to photograph the event because it is a cause she cares very deeply about. “I was honored to be asked to be one of the official staff photographers for The 2022 Peoples Juneteenth celebration,” she said. “I believe these photos are part of our entire community’s history. My hope is that my photo captures all the joy, beauty, and resilience of the day.”
Selinda Guerrero, one of the organizers of The Peoples Juneteenth, was very excited to have Cheyenne as one of the official photographers. Ms. Guerrero said, “A critical part of our work is to center the youth of our community. We are honored and grateful for this work. The images captured by Cheyenne are truly reflective of the powerful beauty of the day. Her images captured the magic of our community uplifting the talent, and the power of food, art, music, culture, and political education. Liberated spaces that promote sovereignty like The Peoples Juneteenth are central to movement-building work, and documenting these efforts through the powerful art of photography is an important part of our culture-shift work. We celebrate the incredible impact Cheyenne was able to bring and celebrate her leadership and courage through her art!"
Cheyenne’s photography skills are definitely impressive, and at only 15-years-old, she already has an enviable list of kudos. She has won multiple ribbons at the New Mexico State Fair and was the youngest person ever to hold a photography media pass at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, which is the biggest pow wow in the world. Over the summer, Cheyenne also finished a portrait of activist, poet, and actress Somah Haaland, and Dr. Evan Adams—an actor, doctor, and motivational speaker—has agreed to do a portrait with Cheyenne as well.
The portraits will be part of Cheyenne’s next project which is a photography book that celebrates LGBTQ Two Spirits in her Native American culture. Cheyenne’s father, Lonnie Anderson, explains, “The book addresses how colonization changed the status of the LGBTQ Two Spirits Native American community in and amongst the tribes. LGBTQ Two Spirited people were often revered, respected, and looked to for guidance and held important positions of influence.” Cheyenne hasn’t quite settled on the title of her book yet; for now, she has titled it The Medicine They Bring, and each person included in the book is asked to share what type of medicine they bring—hope, love, strength, etc.
Cheyenne found the inspiration for her book when she was in elementary school and she invited Miss Navajo Radmilla Cody to visit her classroom. Ms. Cody brought two guests with her who identify as Native trans. Together with the students, they discussed the importance of love, compassion, and tolerance, and they emphasized that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Mr. Anderson says, “This visit, Cheyenne’s passion for the importance of tolerance, and her love for her culture are the inspirations of this book.”