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If I don’t die today, I will marry Kristin Moore

about Aaron Huey

Sometimes it’s not so easy to put a story in a few words, so you just have to dwell on some chapters of it. Aaron Huey is a survivor photographer widely known for his 3,349 mile, solo walk across America — with his dog Cosmo. He worked in extreme places like Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan — where he risked getting caught by the Taliban and to end up “on YouTube with a knife to his throat”:

I want to tell you what it was really like to think death is imminent, but I can’t. It’s a taste in your mouth. And an emptiness. I was thinking about not being me anymore. About not having a body. About the things I did wrong. But mostly I was thinking about a girl. I didn’t think about my family or my friends. I didn’t think about home or my dog. I thought about Kristin. All she wanted, all that she would ever want, was for me to see her as she is, to love her cleanly and all the way through. I’d been so busy loving myself.

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His effort to photograph poverty in America led him to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the struggle of the native Lakota people — appalling, and largely ignored — compelled him to refocus. He stayed with families in the most violent town on the reservation, a place called Manderson, often referred to as “Murdertown” by locals:

“It was emotionally devastating, I‘d call my wife late at night crying. I could have never imagined the living conditions that I saw. I knew the statistics about poverty, but the living conditions went far beyond poverty to even deeper, more dysfunctional problems. Black mold all over the walls of childrens’ rooms. Kids eating off the floors. Infants watching violent films on TV all night.

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A summer storm moves in over the town of Wounded Knee.

Horse races and traditional Indian games held near Manderson to commemorate the Anniversary of the Little Big Horn and the defeat of General Custer.

SVANETIA

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Aaron also lived in villages like those of Phortse, at 3840m in the Khumbu Valley in Nepal, and Ushguli, the highest inhabited village in Europe, Georgia, where about 70 families live in an area snow-covered for 6 months of the year. He reported the isolated lives of those 200 people and their traditions as Limpari Feast, a day of animal sacrifices and an occasion for the community to talk about who has done good and bad, and what in general needs to change, or the night of Tswimnish that involves pagan rituals outside churches and the election of the “Caesar”, a character who leads toasts and is given 3 newly married women for the night. His presence with them will be a good fertility charm.

On the occasion of his frightening experience in Afghanistan, he once wrote “If I don’t die today, I will marry Kristin Moore”. Today he lives in Seattle with his dog Suki, his son Hawkeye, and his wife Kristin. He worked for National Geographic, Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker, The Smithsonian, and The New York Times. He’s a Stanford d.School Ambassador, a wearer of gold shoes, a climber of rocks and an artist.

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www.aaronhuey.com

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