(glowbird) from SPOKANE, WA
Reviewed on 11/25/2018...
This film is loosely based on Dee Brown's book of the same title. It has taken many liberties in with the story/history, for example, placing Charles Eastman, a young, Dartmouth-educated Sioux doctor in Pine Ridge. Eastman was a real person of notoriety, but was never at Pine Ridge. You can read about the other historical inaccuracies in other reviews. While I don't generally nitpick about historical inaccuracy--who would know the difference in this case anyway--Eastman is employed to carry the story forward, and bridge the opposing storylines. They could have utilized a made-up a character to fit this purpose. For Native American historians, or the Lakota and Dakota people, this is a glaring inaccuracy.
The tensions of Native American and American relations are played out by Sitting Bull (August Schellenberg), "the Lakota chief who refuses to submit to U.S. government policies designed to strip his people of their identity, dignity and sacred land; and Senator Henry Dawes (Aidan Quinn), one of the men responsible for the government policy on Indian affairs." What became known as the Dawes Act was the final straw in wrestling Native lands from the original peoples--making individual land holdings for each male head of household and throwing open the remaining Indian lands to white settlement. Sitting Bull accurately sums up this policy noting that the lands assigned will support only one generation--not the future generations. The real reason for removing the Sioux was to obtain the gold buried in the Black Hills, and to this day, the tribes have never accepted this settlement.
As a film, there's some saving grace as an educational tool, maybe as an introduction, but the inaccuracies would need to be addressed as well. The film shows Henry Dawes as sincere in his effort believing this is for the best, but for whom? The other vehicles of good intentions include the teacher, maybe even the character of Charles Eastman, who begins to question his role in this period of history particularly his role in aiding Dawes, whom he will eventually vehemently disagree.
The box set is packaged quite well. The film is worth a watch, but I'm on the fence about keeping it.
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