In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled upon the longest running court case in US History, the United States vs Sioux Nation. The court determined that the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty had been violated when the Sioux were resettled onto P.O.W. camps, and 7 million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders. These camps are now called “reservations”.
The grim statistics on Native Reservations today are the equivalent to that of a 3rd world country, revealing the legacy of colonization and treaty violations. Unemployment on the Reservation fluctuates between 80-90%. Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to 5 families. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The life expectancy for men is 47 years old – roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.
Enter photographer Aaron Huey. For the past six years, Huey has trained his camera on these problems. However, he says, it took him five years to understand what the real story was. “When I first went to Pine Ridge,” says Huey, “the focus was on getting pictures of gangs, superficial violence, drugs and extreme circumstances.” It wasn’t until he was asked to present a TED talk that he pieced together the history – For the first time he saw the reality – how the land was stolen from the Lakota through a series of massacres disguised as battles, and the broken treaties that followed. “It was,” says Huey, “a calculated and systematic destruction of a people.”
To spread the message about the broken treaties – and to let people know “where the statistics come from,”, Huey has devised an ambitious plan. Collaborating with two artists, Ernesto Yerena and Shepard Fairey, (the latter is best known for his portrait for Obama’s “Hope” campaign), Huey is creating a nationwide poster campaign and has enlisted posterGIANT to help them get this very important story out on the streets. Huey gave the street artists no-holds-barred access to his work to design it. “I told them they can cut them up,” says Huey, “and put them together, however they want.”
posterGIANT stepped up to help ensure the Honor the Treaties Campaign would get the attention it deserves with Wildpostings in both Seattle and New York City. In addition, posterGIANT developed a Mini-Site and QR Code campaign to give people the opportunity to access information about this campaign quickly and easily. Posters are now popping up nationwide as people jump on board to help ensure this story gets told.
To learn more about this campaign and the plight of those on reservations nationwide, click here, scan the QR code with your smartphone to visit the Mini-Site or visit the Honor the Treaties Facebook page.
To view additional pictures of the Wildposting campaign, visit our posterGIANT Facebook page.