Underscore News / Report for America

From riding in kayaks up to Willamette Falls for the annual lamprey harvest, to being welcomed into the living rooms of elders, to watching hundreds of canoe families land at Alki Beach during Canoe Journey, Underscore has traveled across the country to cover Indigenous stories and share them with readers across the Northwest and beyond.

We are honored to be invited into these spaces and trusted to document such important moments. None of this would be possible without the support and cooperation of our community.

The photos below represent some of our most memorable moments of the year. This is not necessarily a “best of” list, but instead a digital record of the vibrant visual storytelling produced by our small but dedicated staff, freelance photographers and publishing partners who have been there to document your communities.

Underscore is proud to serve as your trusted source for high-quality, Indigenous-centered news. We are looking forward to bringing you more award-winning coverage of your communities.

We hope you enjoy looking back at our favorite images of 2023 as much as we enjoyed creating them.

January

Model, hair stylist and creative director Bentley poses for a picture outside The Redd on Salmon Street building In Portland, Oregon before the 2022 ONAC Gathering Fashion Show. Bentley is wearing the best-selling cowl and the newest addition to the Kanaine collection, the men's River Jacket. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
“They Come From Fire,” an installation by multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson, featured 12 text-filled glass panels, with black and white portraits of 138 participants. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

February

The remains of an Indigenous woman, Rebecca Contois, 24, O Chi Chak Ko Sipi First Nation, were first discovered at the Brady Landfill in May 2022. In 2023, Indigenous protestors called for police to search the landfill for the remains of women believed to be the victims of a serial killer who targeted Indigenous women. Protestors created a blockade over 8 months, calling for the landfill to be searched. Photo by Miles Morrisseau (ICT)

Bobbie Hill holds one of her daughter Cerise Palmanteer's most recent drawings, a portrait of her sister, who struggles with sobriety, wearing a warbonnet. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

March

Sophie Weinstein finished her first ever baby basket days before her son was born, under the guidance of her teachers Verna Reece and Lisa Hillman, and with the support and encouragement of her husband, Chris Weinstein. Photo courtesy of Sophie Weinstein
Responders work to clean up the diesel spill on Friday, March 17, 2023, one day after a BNSF train derailment on the Padilla Bay Waterfront on the Swinomish Reservation in Washington State. Photo by Richard Walker (ICT)

April

Elder and traditional food gatherer Alice Sampson gathers roots on the Warm Springs Reservation. Sampson, Warm Springs and Wasco, was raised by her grandparents, who were deeply involved in various tribal ceremonies. Her grandmother put her in line to be a food gatherer when Sampson was 12 years old. Photo by Alex Milan Tracy (Underscore News)
Anpa’o Locke, is a Húŋkpapȟa Lakota, Ahtna Dené and Black filmmaker and writer. She witnessed national media stifle voices of water protectors from her home community in Standing Rock, South Dakota during the Dakota Access Pipeline (NoDAPL) movement, as well as the lack of Afro-Indigenous representation in the media. To address this, Locke's dream is to train Native youth to use storytelling and media as a form of “artivism” to amplify Indigenous climate justice movements. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

May

Trisha Kautz, Quinault, raised her hands in celebration as the team successfully balanced another teammate on the giant teeter-totter during a trust exercise at the Native Action Network “A Seat at the Table” Advocacy Boot Camp. Photo by Nika Bartoo-Smith (Underscore News / ICT)
Francisco Pedraza Padilla Jr., 15, does a kickflip trick during an afternoon skating session with his friends. The three young men practice tricks at The Warm Springs Skatepark on the Warm Springs Reservation, at least three times per week. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

June

Drag clown Carla Rossi, Siletz, named herself “Prom Mom” on the evening of NAYA’s 2023 Queer Prom — taking over the mic throughout the night to scold people for not cleaning up after themselves and cracking jokes. She performed midway through the night, dancing and lip syncing as the crowd cheered along. “Just seeing all the young, queer joy is incredible,” Carla Rossi said. Photo by Nika Bartoo-Smith (Underscore News / ICT)
“When most people look out here they see nothing, because they don't know how to look,” said Bhie-Cie Zahn-Nahtzu, one of about two dozen land and water defenders camped out to protest the construction of the Thacker Pass lithium mine along the Oregon Nevada border. “People think Nevada is just open land that can be trashed, whether it be nuclear testing, or bombing ranges, or toxic waste storage and now open-pit mining.” While taking portraits on May 16, Zahn-Nahtzu, a Te-Moak Shoshone and Washoe multi-disciplinary artist based out of Hungry Valley, Nevada, stopped to look at the different medicines and plants like this Nevada Lupine that is found in Oregon, Nevada and California. “It seems ironic to me that I'm the trespasser because I want to see my ancestral land preserved,” Zahn-Nahtzu added. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

July

Davey Lumley, a Yakama Nation Pacific lamprey biologist, shows off a lamprey, pointing out its teeth to attendees of the second annual Lamprey Celebration, hosted by the Yakama Nation in July at Willamette Falls. Adult lamprey are parasitic, latching on to larger fish and feeding on their blood. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

Skaydu Û Jules, Eagle/Killer Whale Clan of Teslin Tlingit people in southern Yukon, Alaska introduced her canoe family in Tlingit during protocol at the annual Canoe Journey hosted by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Canoe families from across the Salish Sea, and even across the world, traveled to Muckleshoot, including families from New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii. Jules and her canoe family, which was made up of mostly women, traveled 1,500 miles to be there for this moment. “Being on the water, it felt like I was lifted up by our ancestors,” she said. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

August

Jessica Elopre and her mom LaVerne Wise, both Tlingit and Haida, are part of the G’ana’k’w Canoe Family. For them, canoe journey and protocol are about cultural healing, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Losing elders, those knowledge keepers, and finding ways to heal together and not be sad,” Elopre said. “The fact that this is the first protocol in four years, the medicine that is being brought out has so much more deep meaning because we haven’t been with each other.” Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
Many canoe families camped at Muckleshoot throughout the week of protocol. The tribe provided breakfast, dinner and a late night snack free for thousands of attendees each day. “Hosting is sharing,” said John Daniels Jr., Muckleshoot tribal council member, treasurer, and chairman of the culture committee. “Sharing culture and the respect. They ask permission to come into our territory so we are responsible for them, we’ll take care of them.” Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
Sarah Boyles-Muehleck grew up in a Native community, but is not Indigenous. She was one of the first people Wayne Price asked to join the journey as a puller. “It's hard not to be dwelling on how my people tried to take that all away for so long and continue to try to take it away in so many different ways,” Boyles-Muehleck said. “I just feel so strongly that this is how people are meant to live as a community and in love with one another's communities and cultures.” Photo by Carrie Johnson (Underscore News)

September

Samantha Eazor, left in foreground with the red shawl, dances with Marrisa Alvarez-Iniguez, right in foreground with the black shawl, at the Sisterhood Powwow held on Sept. 9, 2023 at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. The pair were part of a group of about 60 imprisoned people, their visiting loved ones, and staff from both the prison and Unkitawa, an all-Indigenous nonprofit dedicated to cultural connection. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
John Bravehawk, 74, Sicangu Lakota, is a Sundance chief. He advises leaders across the country on performing the various ceremonies that make up the Sundance. “People take care of you,” he says. “A Sundance chief doesn’t have the time to have a job. That is your job—ceremony.” Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
Dozens piled into kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and a canoe near the base of Willamette Falls for the Indigenous Land Conservation Summit on Sept. 7, 2023. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

October

Wetalu (Lulu) Henry, Niimiipuu and Warm Springs, runs out to take a bow after models showed off 11 outfits she designed for the second annual Northwest Native Fashion Show at Wildhorse Resort & Casino on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Photo by Nika Bartoo-Smith (Underscore News / ICT)
Salmon River Outpost owner Elly O'Rourke and her family gathered to harvest pumpkins at Tishannik Garden in Orleans, California. From left to right: Adia Supahan, her husband, Luke Supahan, and their daughter, Shasti Supahan, met up with Elly and her Atish or grandmother, Jeanerette Jacups-Johnny. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
Designer Kellen Lewis of Trenal Original posed with models after the fashion show at The Gathering, the annual gala held Thursday, Oct. 19 by the Northwest Native Chamber. From left to right: Chloe Thompson, Nez Perce/Black, Gabriella Lewis, Nez Perce/Umatilla, Winter Hayes, Nez Perce/Black, Kellen Lewis, Nez Perce/Black, owner of Trenal Original. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

November

Black Eyed Peas member Taboo, Shoshone, performed for dozens of Indigenous youth and attendees at the Celebrating Native Youth Reception held at the National Museum of the American Indian on Nov. 5, 2023. The White House Tribal Youth forum was held the following day. Over 150 Indigenous youth from across the world were invited to have face-to face discussions around policies to support mental health in tribal communities, tribal-led projects focused on sustainable energy and climate resiliency and policies to address substance abuse, among other things. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)
Keeli Nehani Littleleaf Kotchik, Warm Springs, Wasco and Wyam of the Columbia River territories in Oregon, currently holds the title of Miss Oregon Sweetheart 2023. She is a champion jingle dress dancer and was among more than two dozen dancers to perform during halftime during the Portland Trail Blazers versus Oklahoma City Thunder game, in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

December

Indigenous Water Warriors in a traditional Nisqually canoe attempted to block cargo ship MV Cape Orlando from leaving the harbor. The cargo ship was believed to be headed for Israel with weapons for the ongoing bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza. Photo Courtesy of Coast Salish Water Warriors.
At the White Salmon site, 4-year-old Leadrea, Yakama, smiles as she holds her new Princess Tiana doll with Venus Allison, Dispatcher for Columbia River Inter-Tribal Police Department, James Allman, Salmon Claus and 12-year-old Èla Morrison, Umatilla. Photo by Jarrette Werk (Underscore News / Report for America)

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Jarrette is a multimedia journalist with experience in digital news, audio reporting and photojournalism. He joined Underscore in June 2022 in partnership with the national Report for America program....