SAARTJE VAN DE STEENE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"It is not until you’ve put some tobacco down and prayed for the people, that you really
understand what has happened." As in doing so, I’m standing on the inside of the fence,
next to Kurtis and his mother Feleta. She tells him to practice his Lakota language and
read the words that are written on the tombstone. My own eyes lead me to the names of
the man who fought and died for the country where’d they’ve been chased away from.



26. Bear Cuts Body
27. Chase In Winter
...


To the white man, the mass-grave has become a tourist attraction, but to the Lakota it's
a representation of their culture that almost faded away, and is still struggling to survive.


After a long series of wars between the American government and the Lakota Indians,
the massacre at Wounded Knee would be the last one. On 29th December 1890 more
than two hundred Indian men, women and children were killed at Wounded Knee by the
American army. The Lakota tribe thereby lost their land, and their spirit.


In the year 1973, young members of the ‘American Indian Movement’ returned to Wounded
Knee to protest for their land that had been stolen. After seventy one days the American
government arrested thousand two hundred Indians. Fifteen of them were put in prison,
and seventy Lakota men died under mysterious circumstances.


Today chiefs are no longer chiefs. No longer they hunt for their food, but they buy it at a
store that is recently closed for selling rotten meat. And yet, they are trying hard to keep
their own ways. They are teaching their own language at schools again, doing their
ceremonies and are trying their best to figure out how to live in the society of today and
tomorrow, with the past in their heart.


With this in mind, and the demur whether it is possible to translate history to an image, it
seemed like no framing could tell what I thought it should tell. So I came back, and I came
back again. I approached Wounded Knee with the wet plate collodion technique, which is
from a time just before the Lakota lost their freedom. Over time I noticed myself making
the same photo over and over. With these pictures I can not show you what has happened.
It can only be an attempt to carry a memory and value in their multiplicity.

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