The latest cover of National Geographic features the story of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota. Alexandra Fuller’s well-written piece of long form journalism plus Aaron Huey’s series of striking photographs is standard fare in the magazine by now, but this cover story included a new form of storytelling. Huey, who has spent the past seven years documenting and befriending the Lakota teamed up with Jonathan Harris, creator of Cowbird, to launch the Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project. Cowbird is a storytelling platform focused on personal narratives rather than quick status updates, and the collaboration is an attempt to give the people of Pine Ridge a chance to tell their own stories. Users can use photos, audio and text on one seamless platform that attempts to build a library of human experiences.
Huey talked to 10,000 Words about the collaboration, which was made possible in part by the Knight Journalism Fellowship and the John and James L. Knight Foundation. He first started covering the community when he was doing a larger survey on poverty—Pine Ridge was one of the poorest counties in the nation. Though he didn’t know much about the history of the reservation at the time, he quickly became drawn into its story and evolution, eventually becoming an advocate for the community. Read more