We set out to document our time in Pine Ridge and create a meaningful video based on our experiences, what we saw on the reservation, and what the Lakota people had to say about a variety of things. Inevitably, the scope and focus of our project changed once we got to Pine Ridge and after we returned to Colorado. Our experience in Pine Ridge didn’t line up with our expectations. The people we had wanted to interview and focus our film around had a difficult time answering our questions in a straightforward way. We were confused by other media representations of reservations that we’ve seen. And we were confused as to how to go about portraying what we’d seen in a way that was meaningful and truthful to our experience. I don’t know if any of us were satisfied with the material we had to work with before starting the editing process, but we made the best of the content we had and are happy with the result.
Some of the questions that came up throughout the block that we attempted to answer:
- What should the goals of any media be?
- Do creators of media have a responsibility to the people they are representing?
- What did we want to accomplish before going to Pine Ridge?
- What are our goals in creating a representation of our week in Pine Ridge?
- How do we capture and represent someone’s self-identity?
- How do typical media portrayals of Pine Ridge (and reservations more generally) affect the people there?
We could talk for hours about the ill effects of the dominant media portrayal of Pine Ridge or about the problems people at Pine Ridge face. But we didn’t want to focus on these things because they weren’t what caught our attention. It’s often non-vocal things that don’t get enough emphasis in media representations—the subtle interactions, the gestures and touches, the land, the dogs. These are the things that we felt defined our experience in Pine Ridge and give the people there their character. Without further ado: