Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie was born into the Bear and
Raccoon clans—her mother is Minnie McGirt of the Seminole and Muskogee
Nations, and born for the Tsinhnahjinnie clan—her father is Andrew V.
Tsinhnahjinnie of the Diné Nation.
Tsinhnahjinnie's formative years were influenced by some of the finest Native artists: her father Andrew, Fred Beaver, and Pablita Velarde. A strong indigenous artistic base, fused with her mother's commitment to community and protocol, created the catalyst for an artist of political conviction.
Much of Tsinhnahjinnie’s film and photography addresses the politics of indigeneity and uses digital technology to critique and re-symbolize historical photographs of Native people. Explaining the artistic and political vision behind two images in her recent Portraits Against Amnesia Show, she writes: “Two young children were taken to studios for their portraits and while Boy-in-the-moon sits atop a studio crescent moon in a room full of bright stars, Hoke-tee hovers vividly above the surface of the moon.” In another humorous appraisal of colonialism, she envisions “man going to the moon trying to claim it, but when he gets there, there is a little aboriginal baby floating around on her little space scooter. So colonismo spaceman picks up his bags and takes off because it is just too much!”
Exhibited nationally and internationally, Tsinhnahjinnie claims photography as her primary language. Creating fluent images of Native thought, Tsinhnahjinnie's emphasis is art for indigenous communities. In addition to studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico and the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California, Tsinhnahjinnie has also taught at the University of California at Davis, San Francisco State University, San Francisco Art Institute and the Institute of American Indian Art.
"No longer is the camera held by an outsider looking in, the camera
is held with brown hands opening familiar worlds. We document ourselves
with a humanizing eye, we create new visions with ease, and we can turn
the camera and show how we see you."