Kiliii Yuyan is an indigenous photographer (Nanai) whose work is dedicated to Native cultures and natural history. He has worked alongside Iñupiaq whalers in the Arctic, Anangu aboriginal hunters in central Australia, Inari Sami reindeer-herders in Finland. Kiliii is also a traditional kayak-builder. Through photography, his work tells the stories of people, wildlife, and the changing land.
Kiliii’s work has been awarded by PDN, CommArts, Sony World Photo and Siena International Photo; his clients include National Geographic Traveler, The Nature Conservancy and Outside. Kiliii spends the majority of his time above the Arctic Circle or on the ocean at the wild edges of our world.
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
- 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
- Communication Arts Annual 2015, Advertising