Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie

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Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (born 1954) is a Seminole-Muscogee-Navajo photographer, curator, and educator living in Davis, California.


Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie was born into the Bear and Raccoon Clans of the Seminole and Muscogee Nations and born for the Tsinajinnie Clan of the Navajo Nation, as her mother was Seminole and Muscogee and her father, Andrew Van Tsinajinnie, was Navajo.[1] Andrew (b. 1916) was a painter and muralist who studied at the Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[2]

Hulleah was born in 1954 in Phoenix, Arizona.[3] She moved to the Navajo Reservation in 1966. In 1975, she began her art education at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. In 1978, Hulleah enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with a photography minor in 1981.[4] She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Arts from University of California, Irvine in 2002.[5]


Although she is a photographer, Hulleah often hand-tints her photographs or uses them in collage.[4] She has also used unusual supports for her work, such as car hoods. She shoots her own original photographs, as well as retooling historical photographs of Native Americans. Hulleah also works in fine art film and videography.[citation needed] She believes Native American female artists who use film as a medium for their message "help keep the community strong with their visions."[6]


She currently serves as the Director of the C.N Gorman Museum at the University of California, Davis. She is also an Associate Professor of Native American Studies at University of California, Davis. At Davis, she has organized conferences, such as "Visual Sovereignty", bringing together indigenous photographers from around the world.[5]


"I have been photographing for thirty-five years, but the photographs I take are not for White people to look at Native people. I take photographs so that Native people can look at Native people. I make photographs for Native people."[7]

Published writings[edit]

  • Lidchi, Henrietta and Tsinhnahjinnie, H. J., eds. Visual Currencies: Native American Photography. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland, 2008.
  • Tsinhnahjinnie, H. J. and Passalacqua, Veronica, eds. Our People, Our Land, Our Images: International Indigenous Photographers. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59714-057-7.
  • Tsinhnahjinnie, H. J. "Our People, Our Land, Our Images." Native Peoples Magazine. Nov/Dec. 2006
  • Tsinhnahjinnie, H. J. “Native American Photography." The Oxford Companion to Photography Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Tsinhnahjinnie, H. J. “When is a Photograph Worth a Thousand Words?” Photography's Other Histories. C. Pinney and N. Peterson. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003: 40-52.


  1. ^ For the 9 to 5 side of things. Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie. (retrieved 16 May 2009)
  2. ^ Lester, 572-3
  3. ^ Reno, 174
  4. ^ a b Biography: Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie. Women Artist of the American West: Lesbian Photography on the U.S. West Coast, 1972-1997. (retrieved 16 May 2009)
  5. ^ a b Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole/Muscogee/Dine’). UC Davis: Department of Native American Studies. (retrieved 16 May 2009)
  6. ^ "Native American Women Photographers as Storytellers". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Tsinhnahjinnie and Passalacqua, ix


  • Lester, Patrick D. The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters. Norman: The Oklahoma University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8061-9936-9.
  • Reno, Dawn. Contemporary Native American Artists. Brooklyn: Alliance Publishing, 1995. ISBN 0-9641509-6-4.
  • Tsinhnahjinnie, H. J. and Passalacqua, Veronica, eds. Our People, Our Land, Our Images: International Indigenous Photography. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59714-057-7.

External links[edit]