Views from the Reservation (Center Books on American Places (Numbered Hardcover))

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9781935195122: Views from the Reservation (Center Books on American Places (Numbered Hardcover))

Professor and photographer John Willis is well aware of the exploitation that sometimes occurs when photographers enter impoverished communities for a project. So, in 1992, when he first traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the southwest corner of South Dakota, he assured the elders of the Oglala Lakota Sioux that he would not be exhibiting any of the images he took while there. Over time, however, Willis earned the respect and trust of the community, and the elders—hoping that the photographs might bring aid to their community—urged him to show his work.

            
The product of several visits to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Views from the Reservation is meant to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to the life, culture, and conditions of the Oglala Lakota people. With his insightful and complex images Willis enlists several other voices to offer a more complete story: writer Kent Nerburn, who contributes an original essay; Lakota elders and Pine Ridge High School students, who offer poems; Emil Her Many Horses, the associate curator of the National Museum of the American Indian, Kevin Gover, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, and Oglala Lakota artist Dwayne Wilcox. Accompanying the book is Heartbeat of the Rez, a compact disc collecting traditional songs compiled by the author, the elders, and KILI, the radio station of the reservation.

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About the Author:

John Willis is professor of photography at Marlboro College and coauthor of Recycled Realities, also published by the Center for American Places. His photographs have appeared at the George Eastman House Museum, High Museum of Art, Library of Congress, National Museum of Native Americans, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among other places.

Review:

“This is a beautiful, painful book: a soulful reminder of a dark part of our past and present; an elegant road to a better future.”

(Ken Burns)

“John Willis’s book looks to redefine a special place—the Pine Ridge Reservation—and, in doing so, offers a new model for tackling the issues of place, communities, and history. The mix of Willis’s photographs, historical and archival images, student poetry, artifacts, documents, and essays constitute a very rich assemblage. With such diversity, we can only attempt to negotiate a knowing and be open to things we do not expect to see.” (Linda Connor, San Francisco Art Institute)

Views from the Reservation is amazing—incredible pictures and heartfelt stories perfectly told. This is not only a terrific photo book, but also a very important one, telling a story needing to be told and preserving a significant piece of our history. Every photograph is a classic: carefully seen, lovingly captured, and painstakingly executed.”

(Henry Hornstein, Rhode Island School of Design)

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