(Sioux Falls, SD) FSD Galerié, the seasonally-shifting exhibit for local amateur artists at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, has a new exhibit with a startling undercurrent: the problem of teenage suicide on South Dakota's Indian reservations.
The exhibit, called the "Lakota Voice Project," features photos chosen from those taken by hundreds of Native American children expressing their impression of the concept "Hope."
The concept sprang from collaboration among the Black Hills South Dakota chapter of the American Advertising Federation and Oglala Lakota College business students committed to fighting an epidemic of youth suicide on the reservation.
In the fall of 2011, 200 disposable cameras were distributed to Lakota children, entreating them to answer one question through photos, "What does hope look like to you?" There were no other rules. "Hope became an anthem of positivity to combat the feelings that often lead to suicide," says Jason Alley of Lakota Voice Project. "The photos served as a reminder of the many things that bring us happiness in our daily lives."
According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of suicide among Native American youth is the highest of any racial or age group in the U.S. at over 2 times the national average.
Nearly 2700 photos later, the organizers were stunned. "The overwhelmingly positive response and interest in the project has been amazing," says Alley. "What started as a grassroots advertising and social media campaign to battle youth suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation has grown into an awareness campaign that has reached an audience the world over."
FSD Galerie is sponsored by Media One Advertising/Marketing. The Lakota Voice Project will be on display at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport for the next several months.