Movie Review: Wounded Knee

Wovoka’s vision was that the Native Americans Ancestors were happy in the afterlife and that he was told that the white man would perish. The purpose of the Ghost Dance was so that their ancestors could come back, the buffalo would be renewed, and they would live forever in their land. The white man noticed that the Native Americans were gathering for the Ghost Dance and they were talking about the end of the white man. They were nervous because of it and they wanted to stop it which created tension with the Indians. One thing lead to another and Sitting Bull was killed and some of the Sioux Indians went to Wounded Knee and joined another tribe and then the conflict occurred. The Europeans saw their land as an asset to bring them money and to bring them material possessions and that could be kept private but the Native Americans saw the land as their giver, they did not think that it was private. They shared the land with all the members in their community. Religion played a big part in the appropriation of land from both sides. The Indians thought that Wanka Tanka or their supreme being gave them the land while the white man thought that God wanted them to civilize the Indians and that the land belongs to those who believe in God. I think Col. Nelson Miles was so quick to dismiss because he did not agree with the reasoning that Sitting Bull gave him as to why they should take their men and leave the Black Hills and it seemed like he wanted to fight. He also seemed to not like how Sitting Bull was “coaxing his claims with religion.”Changing the Indian name to a white name and from the bible is so important because it is seen as a way to civilize the Native Americans. Charles was hesitant himself because he felt like he was losing his identity and his culture that he was so proud of. Henry Dawes meant that the Indians either need to become civilized how the white man wanted them to. To become civilized for the Indian meant a lot. Mainly to loose their identity. Cut their hair, change their name to a christian name, and convert to Christianity. The oral tradition of the Indians seems to make them more bonded than anything as they are able to communicate with each other even if they do not speak the same native language. Sitting Bulls interpretation of the Bible Verse is that it is not meant for the Indian but for the white man because the white man was taking away their resources and offering them very little. The story of Charles represents the struggle that many Indians faced, the struggle of leaving their culture and people behind in order to become civilized and survive in the world of the white man. Wounded Knee symbolizes, I think, the failure of the government to do their job correctly and the lose of hundreds of lives in a senseless battle that could have been avoided. Civilization for the whites meant to be christian, have a christian name, and live by certain (European) social and moral codes or ways of living. The assimilation is an urgency because the Europeans wanted to take as much land as possible and start their empire basically and the assimilation of the Indians was a necessity to accomplish this and this is the same reason why they were portrayed as savages, so people would hop on board and see why they were treating the Indians they way that they were.

Overall I thought the movie was really good and informative, especially since I did not know much about Wounded Knee and the events leading up it. It showed both sides of the story, the Native Americans and the “White Man”. It also showed both of their struggles with each other. I liked how they did not hide anything at all, they even showed a man getting scalped. And the ending was, I think, the best part. It was not a happy ending at all and I liked that. I f it were a happy ending the viewers would assume that everything turned out fine in the end but that is not the case. To this day, the struggle to reclaim their lands is still going for the Native Americans among other issues such as waiting for an apology from the government for their horrible mistake. The one thing I did not like was that the movie at times was hard to follow. I wish they would have included more of both sides and for it to have started earlier in the time line leading up to Wounded Knee.

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