May 23, 2009

Final quotes in Wounded Knee

Continuing the discussion of Wounded Knee, the fifth episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

The final series of quotes ends the series on a powerful note:
  • Despite the chaos that followed in its wake, Wounded Knee would prove to be a turning point in the history of Native people.  (narrator)

  • We needed to let the rest of the world know what was going on. Two states over, they had no idea about Indian people. We were just invisible. We were the ones that kicked the doors open on the Indian issue and let the world see.  (Madonna Thunder Hawk)

  • The good that came out of Wounded Knee was the entry into American Indian political life of people who had not been there before, who had not had a real voice. People learned they could tackle problems, create opportunities. And I think that coming out of Wounded Knee, people knew they could make a difference.  (Robert Warrior)

  • There was a lot of sense of we're important, and we can do something within our own people, our own tribe, our own homes. I didn't go back to what I was doing before. I felt maybe I could do something to help not only my people, but other people.  (Ken Tiger)

  • Native activism would spur the revitalization of Native cultures. In the years following the siege of Wounded Knee, Indians would create tribal schools, and cultural institutions, charged with preserving Indian traditions and passing them on.  (narrator)

  • In the '60s and early '70s these were still emerging ideas, about reconnecting with traditional culture, language, religion. It was starting to happen, but this became the majority sentiment in the space of just a handful of years. It was really about identity, it was about affirming we're still here, we want to be here, and we want to be here on our own terms.  (Paul Chaat Smith)

  • Whatever went on in '60s and '70s, it's an extension, it's a continuation. It's no different than what King Philip was about, what Crazy Horse was about. And whatever means and manner we could since the Europeans arrived here, we've had to fight for our survival.  (John Trudell)

  • What the 1973 occupation did was, people started saying, "Hey, we're Indians. It's okay to be Indian. We are Indian. We really should be who we are."

    The struggle we had in the 21st century is to remain ourselves. Every one of us has to do our part to remain Lakota, to remain Indian. And to teach our children. To teach our grandchildren. And make sure that there will be children sitting in sweat lodge, standing at the Sun Dance, in 1,000 years.  (Charlotte Black Elk)
  • Comment:  Nice quotes, but I probably would've left one or two of them out. It's a long stretch of talking heads and noble sentiments.

    Also, it's somewhat misleading to conflate Native activism and Wounded Knee II. As I said before, Native activism began several years earlier and would've continued with or without the occupation.

    Interesting that the producers found some Indians to criticize Geronimo, but couldn't find any Indians with a negative take on Wounded Knee II. In fact, no one was even willing to say "mistakes were made" or "it was a complex situation." This is what I call spinning: taking a failed occupation and turning it into the most significant event of the century.

    For more on the subject, see Connections in Wounded Knee and Review of Wounded Knee.

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