English subtitles

← America's native prisoners of war

Get Embed Code
39 Languages

Showing Revision 5 created 10/05/2016 by Krystian Aparta.

  1. I'm here today to show
    my photographs of the Lakota.
  2. Many of you may have heard of the Lakota,
  3. or at least the larger group of tribes,
  4. called the Sioux.
  5. The Lakota are one of many tribes
    that were moved off their land
  6. to prisoner-of-war camps,
  7. now called reservations.
  8. The Pine Ridge Reservation,
  9. the subject of today's slide show,
  10. is located about 75 miles southeast
    of the Black Hills in South Dakota.
  11. It is sometimes referred to
    as Prisoner of War Camp Number 334,
  12. and it is where the Lakota now live.
  13. Now, if any of you have ever heard of AIM,
  14. the American Indian Movement,
  15. or of Russell Means,
  16. or Leonard Peltier,
  17. or of the standoff at Oglala,
  18. then you know Pine Ridge is ground zero
    for Native issues in the US.
  19. So I've been asked to talk
    a little bit today

  20. about my relationship with the Lakota,
  21. and that's a very difficult one for me,
  22. because, if you haven't
    noticed from my skin color,
  23. I'm white,
  24. and that is a huge barrier
    on a Native reservation.
  25. You'll see a lot of people
    in my photographs today.
  26. I've become very close with them,
    and they've welcomed me like family.
  27. They've called me "brother" and "uncle,"
  28. and invited me again and again
    over five years.
  29. But on Pine Ridge,
  30. I will always be what is called "wasichu."
  31. "Wasichu" is a Lakota word
  32. that means "non-Indian,"
  33. but another version of this word
  34. means "the one who takes
    the best meat for himself."
  35. And that's what I want to focus on --
  36. the one who takes
    the best part of the meat.
  37. It means "greedy."
  38. So take a look around
    this auditorium today.

  39. We are at a private school
    in the American West,
  40. sitting in red velvet chairs
  41. with money in our pockets.
  42. And if we look at our lives,
  43. we have indeed taken
    the best part of the meat.
  44. So let's look today
    at a set of photographs
  45. of a people who lost
  46. so that we could gain,
  47. and know that when you see
    these people's faces,
  48. that these are not just
    images of the Lakota;
  49. they stand for all indigenous people.
  50. On this piece of paper

  51. is the history the way I learned it
    from my Lakota friends and family.
  52. The following is a time line
    of treaties made, treaties broken
  53. and massacres disguised as battles.
  54. I'll begin in 1824.
  55. What is known as
    the Bureau of Indian Affairs
  56. was created within the War Department,
  57. setting an early tone of aggression
  58. in our dealings with the Native Americans.
  59. 1851:

  60. The first treaty of Fort Laramie was made,
  61. clearly marking the boundaries
    of the Lakota Nation.
  62. According to the treaty,
    those lands are a sovereign nation.
  63. If the boundaries
    of this treaty had held --
  64. and there is a legal basis
    that they should --
  65. then this is what the US
    would look like today.
  66. Ten years later.
  67. The Homestead Act,
    signed by President Lincoln,
  68. unleashed a flood of white settlers
    into Native lands.
  69. 1863:

  70. An uprising of Santee Sioux in Minnesota
  71. ends with the hanging of 38 Sioux men,
  72. the largest mass execution in US history.
  73. The execution was ordered
    by President Lincoln,
  74. only two days after he signed
    the Emancipation Proclamation.
  75. 1866: The beginning
    of the Transcontinental Railroad --

  76. a new era.
  77. We appropriated land for trails and trains
  78. to shortcut through the heart
    of the Lakota Nation.
  79. The treaties were out the window.
  80. In response, three tribes led
    by the Lakota chief Red Cloud
  81. attacked and defeated the US army,
  82. many times over.
  83. I want to repeat that part:
  84. The Lakota defeat the US army.
  85. 1868: The second Fort Laramie Treaty
    clearly guarantees

  86. the sovereignty of the Great Sioux Nation
  87. and the Lakotas' ownership
    of the sacred Black Hills.
  88. The government also promises
    land and hunting rights
  89. in the surrounding states.
  90. We promise that the Powder River country
  91. will henceforth be closed to all whites.
  92. The treaty seemed to be a complete victory
  93. for Red Cloud and the Sioux.
  94. In fact, this is the only war
    in American history
  95. in which the government negotiated a peace
  96. by conceding everything
    demanded by the enemy.
  97. 1869: The Transcontinental
    Railroad was completed.

  98. It began carrying, among other things,
    large numbers of hunters,
  99. who began the wholesale
    killing of buffalo,
  100. eliminating a source of food,
    clothing and shelter for the Sioux.
  101. 1871:

  102. The Indian Appropriation Act
  103. makes all Indians
    wards of the federal government.
  104. In addition, the military issued orders
  105. forbidding western Indians
    from leaving reservations.
  106. All western Indians at that point in time
    were now prisoners of war.
  107. Also in 1871,
  108. we ended the time of treaty-making.
  109. The problem with treaties is they allow
    tribes to exist as sovereign nations,
  110. and we can't have that.
  111. We had plans.
  112. 1874:

  113. General George Custer announced
    the discovery of gold in Lakota territory,
  114. specifically the Black Hills.
  115. The news of gold creates
    a massive influx of white settlers
  116. into Lakota Nation.
  117. Custer recommends that Congress find a way
  118. to end the treaties with the Lakota
    as soon as possible.
  119. 1875: The Lakota war begins

  120. over the violation
    of the Fort Laramie Treaty.
  121. 1876:
  122. On July 26th,
  123. on its way to attack a Lakota village,
  124. Custer's 7th Cavalry was crushed
  125. at the battle of Little Big Horn.
  126. 1877:
  127. The great Lakota warrior
    and chief named Crazy Horse
  128. surrendered at Fort Robinson.
  129. He was later killed while in custody.
  130. 1877 is also the year we found a way
    to get around the Fort Laramie Treaties.
  131. A new agreement was presented
    to Sioux chiefs and their leading men,
  132. under a campaign known
    as "Sell or Starve" --
  133. sign the paper, or no food for your tribe.
  134. Only 10 percent of the adult
    male population signed.
  135. The Fort Laramie Treaty called
    for at least three-quarters of the tribe
  136. to sign away land.
  137. That clause was obviously ignored.
  138. 1887: The Dawes Act.

  139. Communal ownership
    of reservation lands ends.
  140. Reservations are cut up
    into 160-acre sections,
  141. and distributed to individual Indians
  142. with the surplus disposed of.
  143. Tribes lost millions of acres.
  144. The American dream
    of individual land ownership
  145. turned out to be a very clever way
  146. to divide the reservation
    until nothing was left.
  147. The move destroyed the reservations,
  148. making it easier
    to further subdivide and to sell
  149. with every passing generation.
  150. Most of the surplus land
  151. and many of the plots
    within reservation boundaries
  152. are now in the hands of white ranchers.
  153. Once again, the fat of the land
    goes to wasichu.
  154. 1890: A date I believe to be
    the most important in this slide show.

  155. This is the year
    of the Wounded Knee Massacre.
  156. On December 29,
  157. US troops surrounded a Sioux
    encampment at Wounded Knee Creek,
  158. and massacred Chief Big Foot
    and 300 prisoners of war,
  159. using a new rapid-fire weapon
    that fired exploding shells,
  160. called a Hotchkiss gun.
  161. For this so-called "battle,"
  162. 20 Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor
  163. were given to the 7th Cavalry.
  164. To this day,
  165. this is the most Medals of Honor
    ever awarded for a single battle.
  166. More Medals of Honor were given
  167. for the indiscriminate slaughter
    of women and children
  168. than for any battle in World War One,
  169. World War Two,
  170. Korea, Vietnam,
  171. Iraq or Afghanistan.
  172. The Wounded Knee Massacre
    is considered the end of the Indian wars.

  173. Whenever I visit the site
    of the mass grave at Wounded Knee,
  174. I see it not just as a grave
    for the Lakota or for the Sioux,
  175. but as a grave for all indigenous peoples.
  176. The holy man Black Elk, said,
  177. "I did not know then how much was ended.
  178. When I look back now
    from this high hill of my old age,
  179. I can still see
    the butchered women and children
  180. lying heaped and scattered
    all along the crooked gulch,
  181. as plain as when I saw them
  182. with eyes still young.
  183. And I can see that something else
    died there in the bloody mud
  184. and was buried in the blizzard.
  185. A people's dream died there.
  186. And it was a beautiful dream."
  187. With this event,

  188. a new era in Native American
    history began.
  189. Everything can be measured
    before Wounded Knee and after,
  190. because it was in this moment,
  191. with the fingers on the triggers
    of the Hotchkiss guns,
  192. that the US government openly
    declared its position on Native rights.
  193. They were tired of treaties.
  194. They were tired of sacred hills.
  195. They were tired of ghost dances.
  196. And they were tired of all
    the inconveniences of the Sioux.
  197. So they brought out their cannons.
  198. "You want to be an Indian now?" they said,
  199. finger on the trigger.
  200. 1900:

  201. the US Indian population
    reached its low point --
  202. less than 250,000,
  203. compared to an estimated
    eight million in 1492.
  204. Fast-forward.

  205. 1980:
  206. The longest-running
    court case in US history,
  207. the Sioux Nation versus the United States,
  208. was ruled upon by the US Supreme Court.
  209. The court determined that when the Sioux
    were resettled onto reservations
  210. and seven million acres
    of their land were opened up
  211. to prospectors and homesteaders,
  212. the terms of the second
    Fort Laramie Treaty
  213. had been violated.
  214. The court stated that the Black Hills
    were illegally taken,
  215. and that the initial
    offering price, plus interest,
  216. should be paid to the Sioux Nation.
  217. As payment for the Black Hills,
  218. the court awarded only 106 million dollars
    to the Sioux Nation.
  219. The Sioux refused the money
    with the rallying cry,
  220. "The Black Hills are not for sale."
  221. 2010:

  222. Statistics about Native population today,
  223. more than a century
    after the massacre at Wounded Knee,
  224. reveal the legacy of colonization,
  225. forced migration
  226. and treaty violations.
  227. Unemployment on the Pine Ridge
    Indian Reservation
  228. fluctuates between 85 and 90 percent.
  229. The housing office is unable
    to build new structures,
  230. and existing structures are falling apart.
  231. Many are homeless,
  232. and those with homes
    are packed into rotting buildings
  233. with up to five families.
  234. Thirty-nine percent of homes on Pine Ridge
  235. have no electricity.
  236. At least 60 percent
    of the homes on the reservation
  237. are infested with black mold.
  238. More than 90 percent of the population
    lives below the federal poverty line.
  239. The tuberculosis rate on Pine Ridge
  240. is approximately eight times higher
    than the US national average.
  241. The infant mortality rate
    is the highest on this continent,
  242. and is about three times higher
    than the US national average.
  243. Cervical cancer is five times higher
  244. than the US national average.
  245. The school dropout rate
    is up to 70 percent.
  246. Teacher turnover is eight times higher
    than the US national average.
  247. Frequently, grandparents
    are raising their grandchildren
  248. because parents, due to alcoholism,
  249. domestic violence and general apathy,
  250. cannot raise them.
  251. Fifty percent of the population
    over the age of 40
  252. suffers from diabetes.
  253. The life expectancy for men
    is between 46 and 48 years old --
  254. roughly the same
    as in Afghanistan and Somalia.
  255. The last chapter
    in any successful genocide

  256. is the one in which the oppressor
  257. can remove their hands and say,
  258. "My god -- what are these people
    doing to themselves?
  259. They're killing each other.
  260. They're killing themselves
  261. while we watch them die."
  262. This is how we came to own
    these United States.
  263. This is the legacy
  264. of Manifest Destiny.
  265. Prisoners are still born
    into prisoner of war camps,
  266. long after the guards are gone.
  267. These are the bones
    left after the best meat has been taken.
  268. A long time ago,

  269. a series of events was set in motion
  270. by a people who look like me, by wasichu,
  271. eager to take the land and the water
    and the gold in the hills.
  272. Those events led to a domino effect
    that has yet to end.
  273. As removed as we,
    the dominant society, may feel

  274. from a massacre in 1890,
  275. or a series of broken
    treaties 150 years ago,
  276. I still have to ask you the question:
  277. How should you feel
    about the statistics of today?
  278. What is the connection
    between these images of suffering
  279. and the history that I just read to you?
  280. And how much of this history
    do you need to own, even?
  281. Is any of this your responsibility today?
  282. I have been told that there must be
    something we can do.
  283. There must be some call to action.
  284. Because for so long,
    I've been standing on the sidelines,
  285. content to be a witness,
  286. just taking photographs.
  287. Because the solutions
    seem so far in the past,
  288. I needed nothing short
    of a time machine to access them.
  289. The suffering of indigenous peoples
    is not a simple issue to fix.

  290. It's not something everyone can get behind
  291. the way they get behind helping Haiti,
  292. or ending AIDS, or fighting a famine.
  293. The "fix," as it's called,
  294. may be much more difficult
    for the dominant society
  295. than, say, a $50 check
  296. or a church trip to paint
    some graffiti-covered houses,
  297. or a suburban family
  298. donating a box of clothes
    they don't even want anymore.
  299. So where does that leave us?
  300. Shrugging our shoulders in the dark?
  301. The United States continues
    on a daily basis to violate the terms

  302. of the 1851 and 1868
    Fort Laramie Treaties with the Lakota.
  303. The call to action I offer today --
  304. my TED wish -- is this:
  305. Honor the treaties.
  306. Give back the Black Hills.
  307. It's not your business
    what they do with them.
  308. (Applause)