Aaron Huey

The Shadow of Wounded Knee: Aaron Huey

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 “When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain.” – Olowan Thunder Hawk Martinez

Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Not a place most people have heard about. It is certainly not a tourist destination; in fact, it is the poorest place in the nation with 97% of the population living below the poverty line and 85-90% unemployment. That is the reason, however, that Aaron Huey went there. On a self-assigned survey documenting poverty in the US, Pine Ridge was his first stop. It turned out to be his last, but the project was just getting started and has now gone on for seven years. Pine Ridge is an Indian Reservation for the Oglala Lakota tribe. It is steeped in problems – poverty, violence, drugs, alcoholism – but the core is much, much deeper than that and can be traced back over 150 years. A series of broken treaties, murder, massacres, and the greed of people has brought them to what they are today. As Huey says in his Ted Talk, “The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, ‘My God, what are these people doing to themselves? They’re killing each other. They’re killing themselves while we watch them die.’ This is how we came to own these United States. This is the legacy of manifest destiny.” The images he takes are difficult to look at, but they are important for us to face. In this time of political correctness and all of our talk of patriotism and the greatness of our country, it is important to stare head-on into the mistakes we have made. “I want people that see this story to think about our history,” Huey says, “and think about how we get what we have.” These images show us a people who lost everything, so that we could gain. If you have fifteen extra minutes today, I would encourage you to watch the Ted Talk at the end of the post. It will change how you see this great nation.  


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[via The Picture Show]


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One comment

  • James Simon August 16, 2012   Reply →

    Over the last five years, one billion dollars in federal aid
    has poured into Pine Ridge, yet it has not made a dent in the poverty and
    unemployment rates. Most of the money dries up in government programs that
    don’t work, tribal corruption and politics, and unbelievably bad administration
    of funds. Realistic solutions will only begin when a spiritual revival takes
    hold, a movement led by authentic Indian warriors who act in the best interest
    of their people. The government should simply get out of the way by declaring
    the reservation a tax-free zone, where any business entity can produce and
    build a network of production centers, support facilities, and rehab services.
    Private enterprise, led by selfless Indian leaders, is the first step
    toward economic prosperity and restoration of the Lakota way of life on Pine

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