Church at Wounded Knee, from "Portfolio of 15 Photographs"

Accession Number

Church at Wounded Knee, from "Portfolio of 15 Photographs"

Elliott Erwitt

Object Creation Date
1969; printed 1988

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

16 in. x 19 15/16 in. ( 40.7 cm x 50.7 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Gerald Lotenberg

Subject matter
Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt's image frames a view of a white, steepled church amid an expansive, low-lying landscape. Little contextual information exists to indicate that this is Wounded Knee, the site of a deadly massacre of Lakota people in 1890. The United States government falsely believed that the Lakota, part of the larger Sioux nation, were armed and violent and ordered an attack on their camp at Wounded Knee. At least 150 Lakota were killed, many of them women and children. This photograph was made seventy-nine years later and omits much of the violence and horror of the massacre. However, the image still hints at the tragic memory of the event as ominous storm clouds loom above the centrally placed church. This Christian structure mostly obscures the brick posts that comprise the Wounded Knee memorial, possibly a subtle reference to the continued erasure of indigenous histories.  

Physical Description
Photograph of field with wild flowers. Church is visible in background. Dark, thick clouds loom overhead.

Eva Caston 2017

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Lakota (culture or style)
churches (buildings)
flower (plant material)
memorials (monuments)
modern and contemporary art

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& Author Notes

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