01 April 2012
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Oglala, South Dakota, USA
Stanley Good Voice Elk burns sage to purify his surroundings. He is a heyoka, a recipient of sacred visions. Heyokas employ clownish speech and behavior to spark spiritual awareness. Through his mask, Good Voice Elk channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.
The Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota live near the site of the massacre of over 250 Lakota Sioux, at Wounded Knee Creek (1890). They recount a long history of violated treaties and broken promises on the part of successive US governments. Pine Ridge is seeing an upsurge in resistance movements, and a revival of traditional spiritual ways. The sun dance has returned, after nearly disappearing, and people are teaching language, horse skills, and ceremonies to the youth.