Critics of Wounded Knee II have said this episode is nothing but propaganda. Well, yes and no. I'd say it takes a pro-Indian position, but that's been true of all the We Shall Remain episodes. They've emphasized the positive and deemphasized the negative.
Maybe Wounded Knee is 80% positive whereas other episodes were "only" 70% or 60% positive. But filmmakers are allowed to have a point of view. Indeed, it's basically unavoidable.
The question is whether Wounded Knee has omitted any significant information. Not being a student of the occupation, I don't know about that. I'll cover the issue in an upcoming posting.
Still, they could've covered the last century of developments using other subjects as well. And they would've avoided the critics' attacks on We Shall Remain's credibility. So I'm not convinced their choice was the best one.
The lack of drama
But for the last eight or so weeks of the ten-week occupation, people merely hunkered in their bunkers, waiting. In the end, the occupiers gave up without having their key demands met. They had to settle for meetings and talks that inevitably produced nothing.
In short, Wounded Knee II wasn't that dramatic of a story. Again, it was a problematical choice for the final episode.
In Native Nations: Standing Together, the 1960s protests and the Trail of Broken Treaties were the turning points in modern Native history. In Alcatraz Is Not an Island, the occupation of Alcatraz was the turning point in modern Native history. In any documentary on Indian gaming, the Cabazon decision and the passage of IGRA were the turning points in modern Native history.
You see what I mean? These events happened on a continuum of change. There was no one turning point. Any documentary that suggests otherwise is somewhat misleading.
Don't get me wrong. Wounded Knee is a fine documentary on an important subject. But for the reasons stated above, I wouldn't say it was the best TV documentary ever. Unlike some critics, I wouldn't even say it was the best episode of We Shall Remain. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.
For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.