Bluemont, VA – Native American amateur photographer René White (Feather) is seeking votes for her Eastern Box Turtle photo to help draw attention to Indigenous Peoples’ contributions and Native American heritage. It is part of a nationwide search for the best photos featuring close-up shots of the details that make up the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). The photo contest, “Zoom in to the Appalachian Trail” runs June 4 – July 13 and is sponsored by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC),
Why a Turtle?
René said she picked a turtle photo to feature the A.T. because the turtle is one of the oldest symbols for the Earth in Native American teachings and has significant relevance to Native American heritage. René is 100% Native American from the Lumbee Tribe and president of the Native American Church of Virginia located at the Sanctuary on the Trail™. Her church is bringing recognition to the Native People of the Americas for their contributions past, present and future.
The Turtle and Indigenous Culture
By participating in the contest René hopes to draw attention to Indigenous People and “Mother Earth.” She said when her art students ask her, “Why do Indians say Mother Earth?” she explains how the turtle personifies “Mother Earth,” from which we all originated.
“It’s a common spiritual concept that I think simply gets lost in language and in a sea of opinion. Biblical prophets wrote that we were born from dirt and when we die we return to dust,” René explained. “The turtle, like everything and everyone has a beautiful story with much to teach us.”
"It is not about me winning," she said.
About the competition, René said it is not about her winning, it is about each person’s free choice to vote and say something with their vote.
“If a person votes for my photo, to me they could be saying, ‘I honor Mother Earth. I am mindful of the four directions and the seasons. I am mindful of giving back to the Earth as she has given to us,” René said. “Or they could just vote because they love turtles,” she laughed. “All I know is I feel Creator God leading me to create something good by telling stories, taking pictures and helping people.”
Much to Learn from Turtles
René said she has learned a lot from watching and studying turtles and nature.
“Like the turtle that buries its eggs, I use to burry my thoughts and my talents,” she said. “Spending more time in the sun and away from the military has helped me hatch new ideas and bring them to light. Maybe the turtle chose me? We have much to learn from animals. Seeing the turtle helps me reconnect. I want to walk relaxed and firmly with the power stance of the turtle.”
About the Photograher
René is a retired military veteran and member of her local VFW. She is an avid volunteer in her community helping veterans, artists and senior citizens. During all seasons and climates, René has taken hundreds of photos of her outdoor sanctuary for Native American Church of Virginia Facebook albums. Last year, Cherokee English-Dictionary Author Brian Wilkes published six of René’s photos in his book, “Escape From The Darkroom!: Old-School Principles Applied to Modern Digital Photography.”
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park Service, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,185 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
Click on the tab ABOVE, which takes you to the AT web site. Then look for the turtle photo BELOW. You have to be logged in to your Facebook account for the vote to count. Each Facebook account is able to vote once within a 24-hour period until July 13 when the contest ends.
More About the Photographer and Her Husband
One of her favorite projects is teaching Art in Nature™ outdoor classes by combining art, Native American heritage and spirituality. She enjoys enhancing dried gourds when she has time and is Vice President of the Virginia Lovers’ Gourd Society.
She enjoys storytelling and recently published a story in the local Middleburg Eccentric about how her husband helps animals. Her husband Confrere Chris (Comeswithclouds) White is the Commander of the Commandery of Virginia with the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, a non-profit non-government organization (NGO).
René and her husband have spent five years preserving, protecting and restoring a Paleo-Indian which runs between the A.T. at Shenandoah River and the famous Bears Den rock formation.
What will you do if you win?
If she wins, René plans to help tell a more complete story of Indigenous People at www.SanctuaryonthTrail.org past, present and future. Her last job in the military was spokesperson for the Secretary of Defense.
About the Contest.
The ATC photo contest asks participants to recognize that the A.T. is not only a footpath, but is also home to a vast array of wildlife and vegetation, scenery, unique people and special Trail communities. Contestants submit a photograph of a favorite feature along the Trail. Photos may include people, places, scenery or more.
The top three photographers will each win a one-year membership to the ATC and will be featured in A.T. Journeys, the official magazine of the ATC. The grand prize winner will also win a custom ATC-themed hammock, courtesy of ENO™.
Photo submissions will be accepted through Tuesday, June 3, and can be uploaded via the ATC’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ATHike. The public will then vote for their favorite photos through Sunday, July 13. Winners will be announced the week of July 14.
About the Native American Church of Virginia. Click Here.