Kiliii Yuyan is an indigenous photographer (Nanai) whose work is dedicated to the human cultures and natural history of remote wilderness. He has worked alongside Iñupiaq whalers in the Arctic, Anangu aboriginal hunters in central Australia, Inari Sami reindeer-herders in Lapland. Kiliii is also a traditional kayak-builder. Through photography, his work tells the stories of the voiceless– people, wildlife, and the changing land. Kiliii is also known for award-winning work in commercial adventure imagery.
Kiliii’s work has been awarded by PDN, CommArts, Sony World Photo and many others; his international clients include National Geographic Online, The Nature Conservancy, Outside, Der Spiegel and National Geographic China. Kiliii spends the majority of his time above the Arctic Circle or on the ocean at the wild edges of our world.
photo: Addie Asbridge
I am a descendant of the Han Chinese and the indigenous Nanai/Hezhe people of Siberia. I grew up in the US at a distance from my culture’s traditions, but remained connected through my Nanai grandmother. Her stories fueled a desire to reclaim my indigenous identity by learning to live close to the natural world.
I have spent the last 15 years exploring the traditional skills of Nanai and other Native cultures, including wilderness subsistence and traditional kayak-building. It's led me to documenting the stories of modern indigenous peoples around the world, from urban communities to remote villages in the Arctic. Those communities have shown me what it is to see the world through truly diverse perspectives.
As our modern needs make increasing demands on humanity and the ecosystem, diverse cultural knowledge is evermore important. There’s an urgency to cultural collaboration—each day, minority cultures come under threat from loss of language, land, subsistence rights, and identity. If we lose their stories, we lose thousands of years of problem-solving— knowledge that gives humans a chance to face our greatest challenges.
- PDN Photo Annual 2017, Personal Work
- Critical Mass 2017, Top 50
- International Photography Awards 2017, Deeper Perspective
- Communication Arts Annual 2017, Multimedia
- Sienna International Photo Awards 2017, Editorial
- International Photographer of the Year 2016,
- Sony World Photo Awards 2016, Shortlist, Still Life
- International Photography Awards 2015, Editorial
- International Photography Awards 2015, Portrait
- Communication Arts Annual 2015, Advertising
- International Photography Awards 2013, Advertising
- International Photography Awards 2013, Conceptual