We Lakota are not to be pitied

We are Lakota. If you depict us, depict all of us.

Some people may like this video by photographer Aaron Huey.
People who want to live in the past.
People who want to think of Natives as poor losers with no dream of a future.

I do not.


I detest that these pictures show the worst of Native American life. Filth, trash, destitution. Where does he photograph the Elder's trailer with the clean yard, the old Ford 4-door and her dainty flowers blowing in the wind? Instead he lines up picture after picture of "Lakota" with garbage in their yards and individuals laced with tattoos and dirty hair, seemingly high on something.


He says his "white skin color poses a huge barrier" on a Native reservation. This shows he knows nothing about Non-Natives living on the reservation and going to the same schools, grocery stores and gas stations. Color is not an issue anymore! Many Native children are light skinned! To me, his statement only proves he is "not color blind."


He says Pine Ridge is the home of THE Lakota Sioux... I think Cheyenne River (my tribe) would be surprised to hear this. I know I was!


He refers to himself and the viewers as "us" and his photography subject of Lakota Sioux as "them." In other words, he is assuming only whites will watch his video, that we (Natives) are a minority. I guess that's because he's expecting we'll be falling down drunk next to our Buffalo and Little Tikes playscapes while "they" (whites) will be watching this video and crying over our sad little fates.


Don't misunderstand me, I appreciate the effort - but I CANNOT be happy that an article dripping with false information and depicting us as losers just became visible on major media to millions of viewers. Non-Natives often do not understand our hostility to their "stories" about us.. "we're just trying to help" they say to us. And our reply should be, "Untruths never help. While trying to come off as an expert on our lives, you passed loads of crappy information to millions of people."


Why did this article make it to MSNBC?


Why not the awesome article in Atlanta by Ed Hooper, the one that was accurate about Veterans and Native America. Did someone say, "No, let's send this error strewn video, depicting Natives as destitute, filthy, dreamless losers to MSNBC where millions of people can now have *another* false picture of who the Lakota really are?" Or is it just easier for Non-Natives to believe we are worthless human beings, poor losers wallowing in our mudholes of yards... drinking ourselves into stupors.. perhaps it makes them feel superior... or justified for past actions. Or again... superior.


So let me explain to the "us" in that video (aka Non-Natives) who "them" in that video (aka Natives) really are... *We're the 50 yr old man with the 5 daughters who goes to Tribal school every day, teaching countless students in hopes of making a difference in the lives of children of his tribe. *We're the mothers who keep our apartments or trailers or houses clean while we care for our toddlers and babies. *We're the 20-something man who dropped out of college but got a GED and is now studying mechanics at the local college. *Or the varied ages of students learning Math and Science or Art and Computers at the University. *Or the college grads now working at the Health Centers or BIA offices or for large firms like Samsung, Farmer's and other companies. *We're the older woman working at the cafeteria who loves to kiss her grandbabies and bead in her off time. The Navy Ceremonial Guard with numerous accomodations from the military and his beautiful children he loves to play with after service every day. *We're the authors, artists, doctors, pastors... you get the picture!!


We go to work, school, church, wear jeans, play computer games, Facebook, watch MSNBC (thank you very much!) and everything else the rest of mainstream America does. And I am sure that if we took a stroll through your inner cities or backwood villages, we would find livestock in muddy yards next to playscapes and drug addicts covered in tats and greasy haired sad people living in squalor. YES. We would. But does that make these people the poster children of Non-Natives? No. It does not. I thank you kindly, Mr Photographer to not pick and choose who we are to make yourself feel better.


We are a people, doing our own thing, taking care of our own.


If you're going to do a major article on my people... get it right.


http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/11/13/5458408-pine-ridge-indian-reservation