Movie Review: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” – Nicolas Stewart

Wovoka’s vision had to do with the ancestors and the Indians perished by the white are to not be reaped for as they’re happy. “They’re happy as the white man will soon be no more”. Wovoka was telling this to a group of Native Americans and the scene was interesting as he used a lot of hand gestures. The purpose of the ghost dance Wovoka was teaching the others was for the ancestors to return and the buffalo to renew, it was also to live forever and get their freedom back.  The ghost dance precipitated the massacre at Wounded Knee as Sitting Bull who had great influence encouraged others at Wounded Knee to dance the ghost dance. This set in motion a pandemic of bad fortune and as an uprising of the Natives to the white men there who called for soldiers and also for Sitting Bull himself to get arrested. When Sitting Bull was being arrested a horse was dancing and everyone around Sitting Bull including the officers were watching the horse. In that moment a man shot one of the officers and the officer shot Sitting Bull. This event was a big factor in the massacre of Wounded Knee. The Euro-Americans viewed the Ghost Dance as bad fortune as they felt it was an uprising of the Native Americans. Such as the man giving out rations, he was so scared he called soldiers for action. Other Euro-Americans also viewed this as an uprising as most of them packed up to leave Wounded Knee.  The Indian concept of land is different to Europeans as they view it as more of a spiritual concept, while as the Europeans view it as for resources and expansion. The Indians want to keep their land as it’s been their land for generations, they don’t want to move as it’s their land.  Col. Neilson Miles is so quick to dismiss the Indian narrative as legend as it’s simply not his belief and he also believes in the facts that the Indians can’t call something that steal from each other’s theirs. It’s damaging to the natives as they only take from one another as there was interference from the White men. The Euro-Americans gave guns to tribes and those tribes became greedy and tried to take from others. Some native tribes had no choice but to fight back and take back what’s theirs. Changing names from the Indian name to the white name is important as its parts of the first steps to assimilation. Being called by your Indian name will not help assimilation if can always remember where the name came from and its meaning. It’s also from the bible as its part of assimilation, changing your name to a name found in the most popular religion in the states at the time will help you assimilate when you go to church and live around others with similar names. Ohiyesa (Charles) is as hesitant as he never truly chose to come to the school and learn the Euro-American way. He was sort of forced in a way by his father. He regretted this in the later part of the movie wishing he jumped out of the train before going to Illinois. Changing his name also means losing part of his culture and where he came from, Assimilation or extinction means simply you can become like the conquerors or not. The Euro-Americans at the time had no problem simply killing off those who wish to not follow the rules of their society.  What it means to be civilized for the Indian is assimilate so much into the new way of life provided by the Americans that they will not want to go back to where they came from.  Oral tradition in the Native American culture carries history and stories, its important as this is their main way of passing thing down from generation to generation, and that’s my guess to this question from reading the text from class though.  Sitting Bulls interpretation of the Bible Verse is that the White Men are sitting the Native Americans up for failure. The white council is making the Indians shut up and listen to their orders or they’ll have to take harsher action. Sitting Bull also says it’s like cutting their balls off and ending their life, he also says that it’s not as easy to take a wife and feed a family. The story of Charles represent how just assimilating a culture is not as easy as it sounds. In the end Charles didn’t truly want to assimilate but was forced to by his father and the government. This caused Charles a lot of stress and regret as to even wishing he jumped out of the train in his childhood to return to his home. Wounded Knee symbolizes how a forceful assimilation into a culture is basically bad. If one party is forcing another party to be like them, not everybody will agree to that. It also symbolizes the evil history America truly has when it comes to the Native Americans. I’d say the meaning of civilization of whites in this movie is gaining more resources such as gold for money and expansion of land for that reason. Such as moving the Natives over their land that they were given to in years prior just for some more gold. It’s urgent as its gold and gold is more precious than those who were non-white back then. Indians are portrayed as savages so nobody would feel sorry for the things the Americans or anybody did to them. Such as the battle before Wounded Knee in the movie. The Indians were made to look savage and in the end of the movie the Americans are no better.

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