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Photography Book Celebrates Cheyenne River Lakota Nation

A beautiful book of photography celebrates the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation and benefits its Cheyenne River Youth Project.

Home: Cheyenne River Lakota Nation (Blurb, 2015), a glorious fine-art book celebrating the community’s life, land and people, has just become available. The book pairs photography by top professionals Richard Steinberger and Matt Normann with creative writing by Cheyenne River’s children. In prose and poetry, the youngsters describe the warmth and beauty that surrounds them.

“The smiles and laughs of many relatives/Fill me with joy./The smell of sage and sweet grass/Tell me I’m safe,” writes Hosteen A. Rave. “Here, I know I belong.”

An essay by Keith Jewett defines home as “where you come from, who you grew up with, and what you believe in.”

During the making of the book, local people were taken with the creative team’s positive view of the reservation. It is the home of four Lakota bands, along with descendants of homesteaders.

“We’ve always strongly believed that Cheyenne River’s story is one of hope, not one of despair,” said Julie Garreau, a tribal member and executive director of the nonprofit Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP). “Our community got behind [this project], and the end result is a beautiful book that really was a team effort. We’re all very proud of it.”

Home doesn’t just portray the community; it also gives back. The youth project, which offers award-winning programs for children and families in the nation’s capital, Eagle Butte, will receive 100 percent of proceeds from sales of both the book and the fine-art prints of its images. (Find hardbound, paperback and electronic versions of Home on Amazon; order prints through Timberline Media.)

To depict the area in all seasons, Steinberger and Normann—along with Richard’s wife, Heather, an ICTMN contributor and longtime associate of the Cheyenne River Youth Project—visited numerous times over four years. Patience was required to get the best shots, Richard told ICTMN in an interview during a 2012 photo shoot on the reservation.

“Matt and I would be driving down a country road or parked overlooking the land, and suddenly the sun would break through the clouds, or an eagle would fly by, and that was it,” he said.

The photographs’ colors range from subtle to stunning. Pronghorn antelope are barely visible against the golden prairie grasses, and pale frost silvers winter trees. A basketball player in a red jersey leaps against cerulean sky, and an aurora borealis streams over an abandoned homestead. Sunsets dazzle. People are shown at home, at work—in offices and on the land—and while dancing in brilliantly hued regalia at powwows.

Youth writer Casey Kay Woodward advises others that they can share in the good will. Don’t drive straight through Cheyenne River, Woodward advises. Instead, stop and visit with someone.

“Heck, you just might decide to stick around for awhile.”

On the other hand, if you’re not going to be passing through north-central South Dakota any time soon, you can pick up a copy of Home.

RELATED: Upcoming Photography Book Offers New View of Cheyenne River Reservation

Coming Home to the Cheyenne River Reservation, in Photos

Photo: Courtesy Timberline Media LLC

Matt Norman left) and Richard Steinberger at work on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.