The Lakota and the Pine Ridge Reservation

Aaron Huey, an extraordinary photographer and journalist of growing acclaim has covered stories all over the world, from Afghanistan to walking across the U.S. Probably no project of his – and it is very much a personal project, not an assignment – has garnered more attention than his several years establishing relationships and photographing on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Pine Ridge is one of the very poorest areas in the United States, and one of the most desperate on the planet. Its residents and the inheritors of the Lakota traditions have nonetheless maintained a fierce sense of identity and pride.

Below is the TED talk that Aaron delivered earlier this year. His deeply personal and emotional involvement in the story of Pine Ridge, the Lakota, and Native America in general soon becomes apparent. Aaron’s focus is narrow – only on the history of official contact between the Lakota alone and the U.S. government. The scope of the history he manages to cover in fifteen minutes is impressive. I will make one emendation to it. Aaron describes the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie as having offered the Lakota all they wanted (until the treaty was violated to seek the gold of the Black Hills) – given the premise of the treaty, that the Lakota were to be restricted to certain lands. The exceptions to this are that the 1868 treaty was a forced renenogotiation of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie and that the 1868 treaty further reduced the extent of the land on which the Lakota were permitted to live.


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2 thoughts on “The Lakota and the Pine Ridge Reservation

  1. I watched Huey’s TED talk a few days ago, after spending quite a bit of time looking at his photography. I agree with you; it’s extraordinary. How rare to hear and such deep respect expressed in such personal terms in words and images.

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