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Ranching families on Cheyenne River Reservation face a choice: Staying in an industry they can’t keep up with or leaving the only life they’ve known


Photographer Emily Schiffer has dedicated no small part of her career to documenting the lives of people living on the Cheyenne River Reservation. In September 2017, In Sight published some of that work: “Playful and poetic: The children of the Cheyenne River Reservation.” Schiffer’s work goes beyond the usual portrayals of poverty and alcohol addiction that many mainstream media outlets have published from that region and its people throughout the years.

Schiffer has continued documenting life on the reservation, and this time In Sight presents images she and collaborators Dawnee LeBeau and Sylvia Picotte have captured showing the life of ranchers there. Again, this work veers far from the typical: “These images portray an essential part of life on the Cheyenne River Reservation, which is often overlooked by outside media,” Schiffer has said.

In a statement to In Sight, Schiffer, LeBeau and Picotte tell us more about the project:

“At first glance, the cattle-dotted hills of the Cheyenne River Reservation’s ranches are indistinguishable from other Midwestern landscapes. But those four-thousand square miles are the product of a different narrative. These images offer a window into the specific culture that exists there, which includes a diversity of people and a way of life that is a lesser known America: a small rural reservation community, where tribal and non-tribal ranchers work hard for the survival of their herds in a harsh, unforgiving climate.

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