Back in January 2014, the Cheyenne River Reservation was brought to life through photographs and creative writing. The magic started with the opening of an exhibit of 30 Cheyenne River Reservation photos taken on the reservation.
The fine-art photographs, taken by professionals Richard Steinberger and Matt Normann, were accompanied by text written by Cheyenne River youth in an exhibit titled, fittingly, “Home: Cheyenne River.” Richard Steinberger and his wife, writer Heather Steinberger, who contributes to Indian Country Media Network, were the creative team behind the project. Heather Steinberger had worked with the not-for-profit Cheyenne River Youth Project for nearly eight years, and the exhibition was made possible through the support of Child Fund International. Heather Steinberger said the exhibit of Cheyenne River Reservation photos tells a story not often seen by outsiders.
“Although many photographers and writers have documented native reservations over the years, the picture they paint of Indian Country tends to be a negative one, focusing primarily on the poverty and social ills that afflict reservation communities,” she said in a statement.
“We had a different approach,” Heather Steinberger said. “We’re not going to whitewash the hardships that are present here, but we hope to demonstrate to a wider audience that what they see of reservation life in the mainstream media is not a complete picture. It neglects to show the pride community members feel for their home. It neglects to show their dedication, and their love.”
Local not-for-profit groups and reservation schools helped the author and photographers collect poems, essays and short memoirs to accompany the Cheyenne River Reservation photos, writing that represents “the thoughts, feelings and hopes of the next generation, who are perhaps Cheyenne River's greatest treasure,” the artists’ statement said.
The exhibition started on Saturday January 25, 2014 with a reception at the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Cokata Wiconi teen center in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, that celebrated the youth project’s 25th anniversary.
What follows is a selection of the photos taken by Richard Steinberger and Normann, for those who are nowhere near South Dakota. More information on the photo project can be found at Timberline Media, the Steinbergers' site. They also have a Facebook page, Cheyenne River Reservation - Fine Art Project.
All photos courtesy of Richard Steinberger and Matt Normann.
The story was originally published on January 26, 2014.