From 1977 to 1987, Daniel James ran Nahanni Reforestation, a tree planting contractor in remote British Columbia in Canada that was hired by logging companies to replant trees they'd clearcut. He'd spend five months out of the year outside, working with a bunch of hippies. In that time, his daughter Nahanni Arntzen was born in a teepee, and spent the first eight years of her life with her parents and their friends doing replanting. Recently, Arntzen, looking for baby pictures of herself, found her father had an enormous trove of Kodachromes from his years running Nahanni. Struck by them, Arntzen compiled Nahanni Reforestation, a book of the photos of this never-before-seen subculture. The striking images of stylish and hardworking '70s hippies in bandanas, denim, plaids, and flannels echo a badass lifestyle that inspires today. GQ spoke to Arntzen about her time as a young replanter, and the long lifespan of the images.
VANCOUVER -- It took Nahanni Arntzen many years to appreciate her early childhood in the B.C. wilderness as the daughter of two young hippie tree planters.
She was born 39 years ago in a teepee on a sandbar nine miles up the Kingcome River on the west coast of B.C.
Her father, Daniel James, caught her in his dirty hands. Her mother, Jenny Arntzen, was back planting within a few days. He was 20; she was 19.
Nahanni Arntzen has warm memories from those early years in makeshift camps of dogs, riding in the back of trucks, sleeping in tree boxes, stealing mouthfuls of icing while the cooks weren’t looking, late night fires and early morning rain.
Arntzen, who now lives with her husband and three kids in Portland, Ore., didn’t think much about those early years until after her second child, daughter Olive, was born eight years ago.
Wanting to show Olive photos of herself as a child, she asked her father if he had any. In response, he dropped off roughly 500 slides that he shot with Kodachrome film during his tree planting contractor days in the 1970s and 1980s.