By Lorraine Jessepe
But away from much of the media attention stood such women as Madonna Thunder Hawk, Lorelei DeCora, Janet McCloud, Pat Bellanger, Lakota Harden, and LaNada Means War Jack. These were just a few of the Indian women in the trenches of the Red Power movement.
Now, the untold stories of Native women activists will be documented in an upcoming film, “Warrior Women,” a one-hour documentary to be aired on PBS. University of South Dakota Assistant Professor Elizabeth Castle, the film’s writer and producer, eyes a 2012 completion date for the film, which is in pre-production. The project is the recent recipient of a grant from Native American Public Telecommunications.
The Western image of the Indian--a man on a horse with feathers and war paint--still dominates popular culture, and the Indian woman, with the exception of the “Indian princess,” is mostly invisible, irrelevant and powerless. “We’ve gotten it wrong for so long,” Castle said.
The media’s focus on the men in the movement allowed Indian women the freedom to get things done behind the scenes, Castle said. “The white media wasn’t going to recognize Native women’s voice.”
Anyway, I hope the women will say more than the usual things. You know, things like, "We were the backbone of the movement. We were on the forefront of change. We fought alongside the men. We're proud of everything we accomplished."
I want to hear about how the Indian men treated the women as cooks, cleaners, and sex objects. And how the men fought among themselves and occasionally stabbed each other in the back--sometimes literally. In other words, give us the real history of the movement, not a sanitized version.
For more on the subject, see AIM's Misdeeds Too Complex to Cover? and Debate Over Wounded Knee.