Republic of Lakotah Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota Photos by Hector Emanuel on assignment for The Washington Post Sunday Magazine
A long time ago my father told me what his father told him. There was once a Lakota Holy man called Drinks Water, who visioned what was to be; and this was long before the coming of the Wasicus. He visioned that the four-legged were going back into the earth and that a strange race had woven a spider’s web all around the Lakotas. And he said, “When this happens, you shall live in barren lands, and there beside those gray houses you shall starve.” They say he went back to Mother Earth soon after he saw this vision and it was sorrow that killed him. Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man
Pine Ridge is home to Wounded Knee, where in 1890 three hundred men, women and children were massacred by the US 7th Calvary as they were being transported to the reservation. As a nation it would be one of the poorest in the Americas.
Life in Pine Ridge is hard. It is the poorest Indian reservation in the United States, with the unemployment of about 80% and almost half of its residents live below the poverty line. Both the infant mortality and alcoholism rates are the highest in the country, while the life expectancy is the lowest (52 for women and 48 for men). Many lack basic services such as running water, sewer, transportation, telephone, and the lack of health care is among the worst in the country.