Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sorry guys - these will be the last photos from my trip. I just had to share them, though because they are some of my favorites.
This photo my brother and I have dubbed "Bunker Cars." There aren't very many gas stations or autobody shops on the Rez. When cars break down or run out of gas, they are abandonned. Gangs are a HUGE problem on the Rez (along with a life expectany of 47, an unemployment rate of 85%, obesity, poverty, diabetes, inadequate housing and health care, etc etc etc. Studies show that Pine Ridge - in South Dakota!!! - has worse conditions than anywhere in the western hemisphere. Yup. That's right, worse than Venezuala and Guatamala and Colombia and stuff.) and they shot out this car.
The one at the PowWow was underexposed but I love the effect because it captures the feeling of the PowWow without singling out any one dancer. It was like this radiant being who simply rose out of the grass to play on the earth.
I am not going to tell you this boys name or situation on the internet because of privacy but I will say he was amazing and needs lots of thoughts and prayers for his health, safety and sanity. I played with him every morning I was there and loved this photo of him personalizing his T-shirt.
I worked with kids from 3 to 10. All of them are really visual and LOVED cameras and taking pictures and video. Their school just got a grant to put a film developing lab in this summer so it will be fun to see what happens with that.
This is the entry at Wounded Knee. If you don't know about Wounded Knee, you should read about it. It is unbelieveable what happened here. The weird thing is, when you just walk onto the property and get out of the van, you feel heavy. You feel the weight of the sadness and pain. It is a very physical thing there that even people who don't know about the history talk about feeling. Last year, my brother and I rode bareback around Wounded Knee. This year we just explored the individual and mass graves and looked for those people we had read about.
This is the sky and the bell tower of the old church we stayed in. What you can't tell from the photo is that the clouds were like popcorn in the sky. Pine Ridge might be stark but it is beautiful. I have never seen such amazing sky as in Pine RIdge.
Anyway, there is a lot of hope on the Rez, too. There are a lot of outside groups wanting to help. There are a lot of inside groups working to try to ensure the help we give is really helpful, not just a handout. (Teach a man to fish kind of thing.) So, we go and we ask how to help and we do it because it is important. When I talk to people about it, they don't even know that this happens in the US. They don't even know what our Government did and is still doing. Not really. Not the truth of it. And the even sadder thing is, a lot of people don't care. But they should because if you aren't working on fixing the problem, you are part of it and it becomes a problem for all of us. Also, those of you who went to Washington, the group that won the extra grant who were from Deadwood live on this Rez. (or thereabouts.)