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Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli's documentary "Lakota Nation vs. United States" chronicles the Lakota Indians' enduring quest to reclaim South Dakota's Black Hills, sacred land stolen by the American government beginning in 1876.
Divided into three sections: extermination, assimilation and reparations, the two-hour docu is told from the point of the Lakota people and recounts how the Black Hills were taken in violation of various treaty agreements while the Indigenous community who lived there was simultaneously exploited and displaced. In addition to covering the ongoing fight to reclaim control of the Black Hills, the docu investigates the many ways that the U.S. has ignored, overlooked and failed to grapple with the historical wrongs done to Indigenous communities across the country.
"This is a story about enduring Lakota resistance and existence, but it's also a conversation with the present," says Tomaselli, who co-wrote "MLK/FBI." "History repeats itself until we actually learn the history."
The Lakota history is not taught in classrooms, which makes the beautifully crafted docu essential viewing. The film highlights various atrocities including Pres. Abraham Lincoln's ordered execution of 38 Indigenous men following the Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising, a six-week conflict against white settlers after the U.S. broke a promise to deliver food and supplies to local tribes in exchange for the surrender of tribal land. The doc also recounts how Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and communities and sent to government-run boarding schools in an attempt to erase Native American culture.
"As a member of the Oglala Tetonowan Oyate, and employee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, I bear witness to the efforts of people committed to getting the Black Hills back," says Short Bull. "From the humblest of dreams, to the dedicated government-to-government conversations, I believe it is time to tell the story of America's longest running failure to do the right thing."— Addie Morfoot, Variety
Fri September 22, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium
United States of America, 2022, 120 min
Director: Laura Tomaselli, Jesse Short Bull, Writer: Layli Long Soldier, Cast: Nick Tilsen, Phyllis Young, Krystal Two Bulls, Candi Brings Plenty