Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Movie Review

In the movie Bury My Heart Wounded Knee, Wovoka’s vision was that their children and ancestors were happy and not to worry or grieve, as the white men would soon be no more, and thus the Native Americans would be able to roam free. The Ghost Dance served to bring back their ancestors, renew the buffalo, and live free forever in their traditional way of life. The Ghost Dance precipitated the massacre as the white men grew anxious as they saw the natives gathering, dancing, and speaking of the end of the white men. This sparked conflict between the two cultures and eventually, Sitting Bull was shot & killed, and which led to further conflict and finally, the massacre. The Native American concept of land is that which is shared and passed down and viewed it in a more spiritual light. However, the Europeans saw it as a resource and sought only to exploit it. The native’s religion is much more heavily grounded in nature and their environment, thus leading them to treat it with the utmost respect and were also very attached to it. I believe Col. Nelson Miles was very dismissive of the Native American narrative because it did not align with his own personal beliefs, and didn’t put any weight into their perspective or beliefs. It only served to further anger him and fueled the conflict and because the natives had no choice but to fight amongst themselves. By changing their own name with a “white name”, the natives were accepting the European culture and integrating with their “civilized” culture, and thus leaving behind their own. Their names were from the Bible to further help them assimilate not only with their society, but with their religion and thus replacing your previous religion and sense of identity. Charles was hesitant as he was struggling to let go of his name and culture in favor of that of the white men. For the Native Americans, becoming “civilized” means to assimilate with the Euro-American culture, and thus abandon their own. The native way of oral tradition allowed for a cultural bridge between the natives, even if they didn’t speak the exact same language. Sitting Bull’s interpretation of the Bible verse was that it was directed towards the white men, and completely disregarded the natives, as the white men weren’t allowing the natives’ populations to rise, but instead were helping them decrease. The story of Charles represents the difficulty the Native Americans faced by  assimilating with the Euro-American culture, and as a result, parting ways with their own way of life. In my opinion, wounded knee symbolizes the horrible reality of what happens when two completely different cultures clash. One culture remains dominant, and members of the other are forced to slowly and painfully assimilate, or else they will be killed off. Civilization for the whites is their own culture and those like it -anyone else should adopt their way of life or else they’ll be branded savages and be targeted. To them, civilization is Christianity, fair complexion, and Euro-American customs. Assimilation of the natives is of urgency as they wanted them off the land, so the whites could begin exploiting its resources as quickly as possible. The natives were seen as savages because they lived polar opposite lifestyles from the whites, and in their eyes, what was different was bad, and what was bad was savage and uncivilized.

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