Chris Rainier

Chris Rainier is a documentary photographer and filmmaker who is highly respected for his documentation of endangered cultures and traditional languages around the globe. For the past twenty years Rainier has been involved with the National Geographic as both a Fellow and Explorer documenting endangered cultures and traditional knowledge systems. In 2002 he was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club for his efforts on cultural preservation, and in 2014 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society of London- specializing in cultural preservation.

Raven Dancer, Klinget, Alaska

Chris Rainier is the Director of The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation – a global program focused on preserving both Biodiversity & Cultural Heritage. The mission of the Foundation is by protecting traditional cultures on their land – they can better protect the biodiversity & wilderness which is on the frontlines of climate change. Photography plays a crucial role in empowering traditional societies – creating opportunities for indigenous communities to tell the story of climate issues first hand.

During his continued tenure with the National Geographic Society he has been the co-founder and co-director of both the Enduring Voices Language Project and Director of the All Roads Photography Program, designed to support indigenous groups with modern technology desiring to document their traditional culture and create sustainable solutions to preserve the planet in the 21st Century.


In the 1990s Rainier spent more than 10 years documenting the remaining tribes of New Guinea- which lead to an award winning book, and museum exhibition tour called “ Where Masks Still Dance: New Guinea”. He has led numerous documentation projects of indigenous groups with extensive expeditions in Australia, Africa, Asia, and South America. He has traveled to all seven continents and to the North Pole documenting endangered Cultures and Wilderness areas.

In the early 1980’s Rainier worked with the noted photographer – Ansel Adams as his last photographic assistant. During his tenure with the photographer- he worked with Mr. Adams to amplify the use of art photography as a social tool – helping to preserve threatened wilderness areas and National Parks in the United States. Rainier went on to collaborate with the UN, UNESCO and IUCN on a Global Project using photography to preserve endangered wilderness areas and threatened traditional cultures around the world.

Eagle Hunter, Western Mongolia

Rainier has completed photographic projects for the United Nations, UNESCO, Amnesty International, Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institution, Time Magazine, the New York Times, LIFE Magazine, and the National Geographic Society. Rainier has photographed global culture, conflict, famine, and war in such places as: Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Iraq for TIME Magazine, National Geographic, and for NPR Radio.

He lectures throughout the world on Traditional Culture and Climate Adaptation Traditional Knowledge Systems. And on using modern technology to preserve ancient cultural traditions. He has lectured for: TED Global, The Aspen Institute IDEAS Festival, The United Nations and Qatar Foundation, The Royal Geographic Society, The EG Conference, Google, Apple, Nokia, and Adobe. As well as numerous Museums around the world, from The International Center of Photography ICP in New York, George Eastman House Museum in Rochester, the Australian Museum in Sydney The National Geographic, and The Explorers Club in New York City.

Rainier’s photography and books have been widely shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, The National Geographic Society, and the United Nations.

Rainier has been featured in two documentaries: Iraq: Under Fire by National Geographic Channel, – and Ancient Tattoos by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Smithsonian TV Channel.

Rainier has six books published:

Keepers of the Spirit
Where Masks still Dance: New Guinea
Ancient Marks
Grand Canyon: River at Risk
Cultures on the Edge