Photojournalist Aaron Huey has covered the Lakota of Pine Ridge for over six years, and he’s now hoping his images can educate the non-Indian masses about the issues on the reservation. To that end, he’s enlisted poster artists Shepard Fairey, of Obama “Hope” posters fame, and Ernesto Yerena, who has created iconic images for the cause of immigration reform.
Huey launched a fundraising campaign on a site called Emphas.is with the goal of raising $17,250; on April 28 he met that goal and as of today his project has more than $25,000 of funding. His collaborators have thus far produced three poster designs, and Huey has also devised some billboards himself.
As a journalist turned activist, Huey is seeking to give a better explanation of Pine Ridge than he and his professional colleagues have in the past. “When I first went to Pine Ridge,” he told Time magazine, “the focus was on getting pictures of gangs, superficial violence, drugs and extreme circumstances.” After years of returning and researching, he finally came to understand that today’s Lakota are survivors of “a calculated and systematic destruction of a people.”
Huey is acutely aware that, as a non-Indian, he cannot presume to speak for Indians. His aim is to present an assessment of the situation to the rest of America with what he described to PopPhoto.com as “brutal honesty.” “I’m going to be more blunt than mainstream media can be,” he said, “using text written by Lakota non-profits that includes loaded language like ‘genocide‚’ and ‘prisoner of war camps‚’ to describe the reservation system.”