The Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota live near the site of the massacre of over 250 Lakota Sioux, at Wounded Knee Creek (1890). They recount a long history of violated treaties and broken promises on the part of successive US governments. In 1980, after the longest-running court case in US history, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills territory, land sacred to the Sioux, had been seized illegally after gold was discovered there in 1874. The court awarded a compensation payment of US$ 106 million, but the Sioux refused the money and demanded return of the lands. Today, Pine ridge is one of the poorest parts of the US, with unemployment in places reaching 90 percent, and a male life expectancy of 48. Pine Ridge is seeing an upsurge in resistance movements, and a revival of traditional spiritual ways. The sun dance has returned, after nearly disappearing, and people are teaching language, horse skills, and ceremonies to the youth.
Photography by Aaron Huey.