When Stephen Rose points a camera, his aim is to reveal hidden elements and small truths. Native Skates, part of an ongoing book-length project, does this and so much more.

Looking deeply into the soul of these photos captured at an Albuquerque Powwow skateboarding competition, they reveal not the much publicized drug and alcohol abuse or disenfranchised Native American youth bandied about in the media, but instead the clear eyes of empowered kids, gentle and intelligent, with common purpose and dreams and kick-ass tribal symbols painted on their skateboards.

Rose was struck by how incredibly kind and mild-mannered the kids were, brought together by the athleticism of skateboarding. “Sometimes there was intense pride and reverence for their tribes and history. Other times, they were just kids who wanted to listen to music and hang out with their friends.”

Native Skates, as a series, is intimate and personal. You don’t feel like an intruder or a tourist looking in on these kids, you feel like you know them.


Photographer: Stephen Rose

Writer: Theresa Coulter