Reprint due in March 2015.
In this powerful new book of photographs, Aaron Huey portrays both the broken social landscape and the ceremonial warrior culture of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This body of work goes far beyond the obvious poverty and into the world of the tribe’s visions and dreams. It is a witness to both the dark and the light, and is intentionally presented as more of a prayer or poem than documentary. The book begins and ends with a traditional Lakota prayer, suggesting that the intervening images may be analogous to a transformative ceremonial experience.
The Pine Ridge Reservation, located 75 miles south east of the Black Hills in South Dakota, is sometimes referred to as Prisoner of War Camp #344, and is now the home of the Oglala Lakota. Sadly, Pine Ridge is now the quintessential example of the failure of the U.S. reservation system imposed upon the Lakota and other tribes, with staggering statistics on everything from violent crime to education. The unemployment rate is nearly 90% and the life expectancy for men is 48, roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.
Huey, a photographer who has covered war and crises in some of the most far-flung places on the planet for magazines like the New Yorker and National Geographic, stumbled upon Pine Ridge seven years ago. Since then he has created one of the single largest bodies of work on a contemporary Indian Reservation. His color photographs stand as a testament to the incredible difficulties facing the tribe and the reparations yet to be made to them, but also to the strength and beauty of their spirit, which shines through all of the darkness.
Read David Ondrik's review of Mitakuye Oyasin on photo-eye Blog.