Aaron Huey is a passionate photographer, a storyteller and an adventurer who is known for his fearless consciousness when it comes to capturing the truth behind every story. Over the years he has touched on issues related to a war crime, drug wars, underwater caption of shark and now the trending America’s native prisoners of war. Aaron works with national geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines as a photographer. His story dabbed America’s indigenous prisoners of war starts when Aaron takes a trip across the country with an aim to snapshot poverty in the United States. On his quest, Aaron comes across the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. While at the reservation Aaron witnessed first-hand poverty coupled with struggle and oppression that the Lakota people have been subjected to for the past over 150 years. Aaron made documentation of what he saw, and that impacted on him to have a change of attitude towards the oppression that the indigenous community went through. Huey felt like it was a calling and that someone had to find the courage and openly talk about it. To drive his point, Aaron opted to use what he knows best- photography- to showcase and appeal to his audience at TED talk in 2010 to see the evil that to society as subjected Native American.
To kick start the argument, Aaron decides to approach the scenario from a timeline angle. He takes his audience through the events that transpired over the years between the government of the US and the Native Americans. The use of timeline serves the purpose of creating a logical build up. Aaron chronologically takes his audience through the event of hatred fueled by the government towards the Native Americans. Over the years there were treaties signed, treaties that got broken and massacres that were camouflage battles. Aaron uses the ‘appeal of logos to make his audience understand the chronological timeline of history that took place’ (Huey). Aaron starts by explaining the formation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs which was the first to be formed to level down the aggression of Native Americans. Aaron stress on the line “largest mass murder in US history” to explain the killing of 38 Sioux men as a result of an uprising in Minnesota in 1863. To make is point clear he adds “that the massacre order was directly given by the then president Abraham Lincoln who just engaged the Sioux community in signing an ‘Emancipation Proclamation’” (Huey). Aaron wants his audience to understand that one race is riding on the other to gain a milestone in breaking free from suffering by chaining other race in oppression. Aaron notes that this was just a beginning of priding in the culture of whiteness by denying other race justice.
In the year 1871, Indian were officially made “the wards of the government and their rights of the movement got restricted to the reservations” (Huey). Aaron is tactical in his choice of words. He constantly uses the word “we” so as not to draw a line between the government and the current society. Huey meant to make the audience feel that they are part of the problem. Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 was the most notable event that saw the death of chief Big Foot and 300 prisoners of war. The United State troop marched into Sioux camp and fired rapidly at the helpless people using a Hotchkiss gun. The 7th Calvary team were honored with 20 congressional medals. It went down in history as the most Medals of Honor ever awarded on a single battle. Aaron further says that more decoration was assigned to the murder of innocent women and kids that the total number was more than that awarded in world war 1, 2 Iraq, Vietnam, and Afghanistan combined.
Having taken the audience through that past historical injustice, Aaron decides to introduce and acquaint his listeners to the modern form of oppression. Society is yet to change embrace humanity. Neo-colonization is real, and people are still forced to migrate from their native land. Additionally, the government keeps breaking treaties. Aaron on his study realized that unemployment is one of the chief problem facing the Native American. “85% of Native American are unemployed with the majority living below the poverty line” (Huey). People in pine Indian reservation suffer from disease such as tuberculosis at a high rate. The community suffers from numerous challenges with Infant mortality, and school dropout is eight times higher than of the United States. “Most kids are brought up by the grandparents since most fathers have drowned in alcoholism” (Huey). Aaron brings this data to light to enlighten the society that the problem they hear in third world countries are not far from where they live. Aaron attributes the plight of the Native Americans to the failed system of governance and the culture of whiteness.
We live in a world where technology is growing fast. Thanks to technology Aaron can take photographs that depict the injustice that is happening to the Lakota people. The government should own up and face the reality of what is happening to its citizen. Additionally, the message is not only directed to the native Americas but all other Americans who secretly are oppressed. It is high time that the government acknowledges that black lives matter. The government should find a peaceful way to end racism. Leaders from both sides should sitting down and not only sign treaties but instead come up with a systematic lasting solution to the problem. Resources should be distributed equally to every American.
Additionally, the government should intervene and help protect the culture of the Native American before it faces distinction. Aaron has played a part by boldly opening up to share his experience with the rest of the world. By so doing he has evoked emotions of sympathy and empathy towards the oppressed.
Huey, Aaron. “America’s Native Prisoners of War.” Aaron Huey: America’s Native Prisoners of War | TED Talk, TED Conferences, Sept. 2010. www.ted.com/talks/aaron_huey.
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