14 June 2012
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Oglala, South Dakota, USA
Lyle Le Beaux, of the traditionally minded Thunder Valley community of Oglala Lakota, bears scars on his chest that come from sacred piercings, made during sun dance ceremonies. Participants hang from the sun dance tree until their skin breaks. This symbolic death transports them into visions, and is used to heal the community.
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.