Nathan Maybee

Seneca (Onöndowa’ga:’ - People of the Great Hills)

Born 1983, Cattaraugus Indian Reservation

I grew up on territory, but graduated from a public school. After high school, I followed in the footsteps of a family legacy and became a Marine. I spent four years enlisted with multiple deployments and completed my enlistment honorably. Post-combat experience, for me, was not good. I struggled with not accepting what trauma had been experienced. My road to recovery began when a friend put a camera in my hands and that started a hobby that gave me a creative outlet and I found purpose in that. I was married in 2016 to a woman who had always encouraged me to understand the importance of good mental health, furthering my comprehension of the struggles of veterans life after combat. After a number of years an opportunity came up to be part of a photography workshop for combat veterans called Odyssey: Warriors Come Home, run by photojournalist Brendan Bannon. It was through this workshop that a number of veterans were given an opportunity to learn how to express themselves and, in my personal experience, really begin facing the traumas we experienced and channel it in a healthy and healing way. Since participating in the workshop, I have a working idea for a series of photos centralized around indigenous veterans. Through my struggles of living life with PTSD, I’ve also become more aware of my identity as an indigenous descendant, and facing the generational traumas that exist within our various indigenous communities. My life experiences have always been a part of my photography process from how I interpret what I see, to how I frame it, to how I edit. Photography has always been nothing but a positive experience for me. It’s frustrating at times, but it always ends up positive.

This photo titled “Going Back” is a self portrait, multiple exposure. The silhouette is a self portrait layered with a still from a video taken in Iraq. The self portrait was taken in Buffalo, New York, and the still from the video was taken around Haditha, Iraq (video still is from footage from my 05’ tour). The best way to describe this photo is - post-combat life has many struggles. You miss it, you hate it, you’re thankful for the experience, you’re angry at the losses. It’s a very confusing relationship. There are going to be times when I’m staring at seemingly nothing, not present in the moment. My loved ones often wonder where I go when I’m in this state. All I can tell them is that “I go back” and this photo is what I mean.