on the Reservation
Director of Photography
With: Wall Street Journal & Frontline PBS
© Matthew Staver
I remember sitting with Chris Weaver and Gabe Johnson at the Wall Street Journal in New York City. Gabe handed me a device to watch a summary of their investigation into Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber’s history of sexual abuse within Indian Health Services. I’m not entirely sure if what I felt was anger, hatred, or sadness but I remember quickly saying yes to joining the project.
Higher Ground, a coffee shop in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, was the spot our team would meet. We would plan for the day, meet with sources, and charge our batteries. One day we sat with a man, the same age as me, and listened to him as he recounted his childhood and what Dr. Weber did to him.
In Browning, Montana, I asked a group of boys if I could film them doing tricks on their skateboards. As I framed up my shots, all of the interviews our team conducted, conversations, and court documents started to flood my brain. Instead of fighting tears, I let them run and kept filming.
On the road to Martin from Pine Ridge, there were fields of sunflowers. We pulled over to film them. It was windy and there was snow on the ground. The sunflowers were sitting in rows, slouched over, and faded brown.