Lakota Teens Study Photography on the Future Generations Ride



Braving the harsh conditions of the South Dakota Winter, two Lakota youths photograph the 2006 Oomaka Tokatakiya, Future Generations Ride.

For fourteen days and nights, Wakpala students TaTanka Canté Hokshila (TC) Hill, and Jessica Peters photographed the riders as they followed the trail taken by the Hunkpapa and the Miniconjou when they evaded the US Army in December of 1890. The annual ride starts on December 15th at Sitting Bull Camp, Standing Rock, and ends on the 29th at the Wounded Knee Massacre site in Pine Ridge--about 285 miles



These young photographers, under the guidance of Los Angeles based photographer, Ken Marchionno, took pictures of all aspects of the Ride, from start to finish, creating an important document for generations to appreciate. Over the years the Ride has seen dozens of photographers come and go, and aside from snapshots taken by family and friends, the tribe has little record of this twenty-year tradition.

Originally known as the Big Foot Memorial Ride, it started in 1986 and was meant to continue until 1990, marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the massacre. That year there was a Wiping of the Tears ceremony and the Ride was meant to end. But with the urging of youth participants, “Lakota elders decided to give permission for the rides to become an annual event, with a specific focus on the future generations,” explains Vina White Hawk, one of the original riders.

The ride was renamed the Future Generations Ride and now the focus is on youth.  Most of today’s riders are teens and young adults. In 2005, Standing Rock youth organizer, Manaja Hill, approached Ken Marchionno, a photographer from Los Angeles, to teach teens on the Ride.

Ken started the Future Generations Photojournalism Project in 2006.  “The aim is to help youth participate in imaging a tradition that is focused at them.” 

With the help of contributions from friends and colleagues, the Project provided a computer, printer, and cameras to two teens from Standing Rock Reservation.

Jessica Peters, sixteen, and TC Hill, ten, both from Wakpala School, were the first students.  Each day they photographed the Ride, and each night they downloaded their images to a computer, selected their best shots, and printed pictures for the riders to take home. 

At the end of the Ride the cameras go home with the students, and their images can be found on the internet.  In the future their work will be deposited in two archives, Oglala Lakota College Archive, and Sitting Bull College Library.

Click here to see the photographs.

photos by TC Hill

photos by Jessica Peters