Saturday, November 27, 2010

THoT 3: Aaron Huey: America's native prisoners of war

Aaron Huey, photographer, spent some time with the Lakota people. Here he presents a chronological history of lies, broken promises, and war-ish aggression against the tribes cut against contemporary photos of the people and their communities.

In fact - and I had never considered this before - he refers to the reservations as "Prisoner of War Camps." Definitely worth a view. I'll have to watch again.



Beginning of transcript, courtesy of TEDX:

I'm here today to show my photographs of the Lakota. Many of you may have heard of the Lakota, or at least the larger group of tribes called the Sioux. The Lakota are one of many tribes that were moved off their land to prisoner of war camps now called reservations. The Pine Ridge Reservation, the subject of today's slide show, is located about 75 miles southeast of the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is sometimes referred to as Prisoner of War Camp Number 334, and it is where the Lakota now live. Now, if any of you have ever heard of AIM, the American Indian Movement, or of Russell Means, or Leonard Peltier, or of the stand-off at Oglala, then you know that Pine Ridge is ground zero for Native issues in the U.S.

So I've been asked to talk a little bit today about my relationship with the Lakota, and that's a very difficult one for me. Because, if you haven't noticed from my skin color, I'm white, and that is a huge barrier on a Native reservation. You'll see a lot of people in my photographs today, and I've become very close with them, and they've welcomed me like family. They've called me brother and uncle and invited me again and again over five years. But on Pine Ridge, I will always be what is called wasichu, and wasichu is a Lakota word that means non-Indian, but another version of this word means "the one who takes the best meat for himself." And that's what I want to focus on -- the one who takes the best part of the meat. It means greedy. So take a look around this auditorium today. We are at a private school in the American West, sitting in red velvet chairs with money in our pockets. And if we look at our lives, we have indeed taken the best part of the meat. So let's look today at a set of photographs of a people who lost so that we could gain, and know that when you see these people's faces that these are not just images of the Lakota, they stand for all indigenous people.

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