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History through the lens of today: Native Americans

Photojournalist Andrew Lichtenstein is documenting sites important to America's past, with the idea that what he finds there reflects on what's important to people in the present.  Introduction: About this project

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Wounded Knee, South Dakota

Above: The small town of Wounded Knee on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is a place filled with history. It is here in 1890 that the Seventh Cavalry massacred Big Foot's fleeing band in the snow, symbolically ending several centuries of Indian wars. The town was also the site of a 71-day stand off between FBI agents and American Indian Movement activists in 1973. Today the area, like much of the reservation, is mired in rural poverty.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Mystic, Connecticut

Above: The site of the 1637 Pequot Massacre in Mystic, Conn., where colonial troops slaughtered more than 500 women and children by setting a Pequot fort on fire and killing everyone who tried to flee, is now a suburban traffic circle near an Interstate 95 exit. A statue of the colonial soldier who led the raid, Capt. John Mason, used to stand in the circle, but it was moved in 1995 to Windsor, Conn. The Pequot Tribe, which was instrumental in having the statue moved, now owns the Foxwoods Casino, the largest employer in the area.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Sturgis, South Dakota

Above: Bear Butte, on the northern edge of the Black Hills in South Dakota, is where the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes received their creation myth. It is still a religious site of great importance, despite being only a few miles from the biker bars and annual motorcycle rallies of Sturgis. For thousands of years, American Indian tribes, including the Lakota, Dakota, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa, Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan, have traveled to Bear Butte to perform annual prayer ceremonies. While the mountain itself is a protected state park, there are plans for oil drilling in the surrounding area.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Winthrop, Massachusetts

Above: Deer Island in Boston Harbor. During the cold winter of 1676, at the height of King Phillip's War, Christian Indians were rounded up from their separate villages across New England and left on the exposed island, without food or blankets. Several hundred Indians who had embraced the colonists' way of life froze or starved to death.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

West Yellowstone, Montana

Above: An estimated 60 million to 100 million bison once wandered across the American wilderness, in herds that stretched across the continent, from Canada to Mexico. By the end of the 1870s, in a conscious policy that combined the interests of the War Department attempting to starve the Indians on the western Plains, settlers seeking new land to farm and hunters out for a quick profit in hides, the animal was on the verge of extinction. In a single decade, millions of bison were slaughtered, their stripped carcasses left to rot where they fell. Today, only one continuous wild herd of around 3,000 animals survives, offspring of 23 stragglers who had managed to escape the slaughter by hiding in what is now Yellowstone National Park. During the winter, the animals are shot when they leave the boundaries of the park to look for food in the lowlands, where the snow is not as deep. Montana ranchers fear the spread of brucellosis to their domesticated cattle herds, even though there has never been a confirmed case of it spreading from bison to cattle.

Editor's note: This is Part 2 in a three-part series, History through the lens of today, that we're publishing in PhotoBlog this week.

Lichtenstein continues this work with the help of a grant from The Aftermath Project. 

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