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Faces of Chaco

Rob Zeigler | United States

Marlene Thomas: “We used to go up on the mesas and find small pottery and we were told to leave it, you know, not take it back, and they would consider it sacred. And just in the little hills here, mesas, it's just the whole place being destroyed. Even down in this canyon you can find petroglyphs. And they tell us we're trespassing. This is our home, I say, how dare you tell us we're trespassing?”

Faces of Chaco is an ongoing documentary photography series focused on members of the Navajo community in the Greater Chaco area of New Mexico. The project will bring attention to the trials they face as a result of the oil and gas industry disrupting their lives, traditions and family ties. For years, fracking and crude oil manufacturing have not only damaged the environment and sacred Navajo sites, but also the connections between family members who are unwittingly pitted against one another for the benefit of invasive industrial companies.

This exhibit will focus on the people of Chaco and the stories they have to tell. It will focus on the changes they’ve seen, what their lands look like now and how their lives are impacted today. Many of the captions within are directly lifted from conversations with members of the Navajo Nation. Through a mixture of documentary and portrait photography, viewers will get an idea of how the people of the Navajo community are moving forward with their lives while still fighting to give their children a better future. 

Faces of Chaco is a project done in partnership with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, a 501(c)(3) organization that advocates for clean air, pure water and healthy lands in the San Juan Basin.

I’m a photographer, writer and film editor currently residing in Dallas, TX. After three years of street and travel photography, my documentary work now reflects my strong desire to document and highlight those who would otherwise go unnoticed.



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