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American photographer Aaron Huey has recieved some tough assignments over the years, covering the drug war in Afghanistan for The New York Times and The New Yorker, as well as the assasination of Benazir Bhutto - also for The New Yorker. But one project in particular, 'Poverty in America', has provided Aaron with a different perspective on his role as a photojournalist, and has ended up spawning a number of related art, film, and audio projects since he started work on it in 2005.
Huey's original goal when planning the 'Poverty In America' project was to travel across the country shooting a broad range of poor communities. But after visiting the first location, The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, he abandoned the project as it was originally conceived, to focus solely on Pine Ridge.
Aaron would end up going back to Pine Ridge - home of the Oglala Sioux Tribe - close to 20 times over the following seven years, enabling him to have ongoing exposure to feedback, both positive and negative, from the people he was taking photos of. 'We don't usually have to look back into the eyes of our subjects' said Huey of his Pine Ridge work. 'In Afghanistan, I just had to survive, but with the Pine Ridge work, I had to evolve'.
Released worldwide today, Honor The Treaties is a short documentary by Director Eric Becker about Aaron's Pine Ridge work, examining Huey’s personal growth as a photographer, storyteller, and advocate. The film was recently selected as a featured short documentry at The Seattle International Film Festival, and is now available publicly for first time on Vimeo:
Aaron began working with writer Alexandra Fuller last year on a cover story about Pine Ridge for National Geographic Magazine. The story, published in July and on newstands now, digs deeper into the state of affairs on Pine Ridge today.
"After 150 years of broken promises, the Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota are nurturing their tribal customs, language, and beliefs. A rare, intimate portrait shows their resilience in the face of hardship."
From 'In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: Rebirth of a Sioux Nation' - cover story of National Geographic Magazine, August 2012