Making its public premiere this week on PBS's Independent Lens, the documentary film Young Lakota weaves together the stories of Lakota youth in South Dakota in the wake of an impending state-wide abortion ban.
Sometimes, I give her the camera without saying anything. Other times, I give her prompts. "Take pictures of the things you love, whatever is special to you." The following photographs represent one corner of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, as seen through the eyes of a 5-year-old girl.
Now in her 50s, Sonja has traded her pencils for "earth paints," made of ground rock mixed with water. She sometimes sketches her concepts first, especially if a specific animal requires practice, and chooses colors as she goes.
Their band, Scatter Their Own, is the English translation of their tribe's name, "Oglala." The Oglala Lakota live on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, surrounded by the Badlands and the Black Hills.
Before Ray died of a heart attack at age 57, he told his wife, "You have a book in you. You need to get it out." Delores, 58, is the reason I look at Ray's photo everyday. In April, I made the 14-hour drive from Chicago to Delores' home on Pine Ridge.
In a couple of weeks flyers will be strewn across the Pine Ridge Reservation asking the residents to honor the "Liberation of Wounded Knee in February of 1973." Those who would celebrate and hand out flyers have a delusional recollection of the past.
The abused, as often happens, became the abusers and another generation of children experienced the trauma of their parents. It is a cyclical thing that the Indian people themselves are trying so hard to break.
What's astonishing is that although Martin lives in one of the most economically challenging areas of the country, he refuses to put himself first. He struggles out of bed with one goal in mind -- to find employment for the reservation's youth.
How did Ms. Sawyer report this comment? She said that 80 percent of the people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation were alcoholics. Say what? Didn't she hear what he really said or was she seeking some sort of sensationalism at the expense of the Lakota people of Pine Ridge?
Whenever I hear of any major television station wanting to do a show on Pine Ridge in hopes of winning another award, I cringe. In the more than 30 years I have been in the media, I have seen them come and go and nothing has changed.
After months of continual efforts to repress and even shut down Oglala participation in the national election, the simple fact that tribe members were able to fill out ballots on November 2 was a victory for equal rights.
Native Americans have long faced police harassment and illegal voter challenges in South Dakota. Those problems may soon be over because South Dakota has no plan to provide any voting at all in this fall's election.