Lakota Nation vs United States

The Očeti Šakówin are also known as Lakota, Nakota and Dakota. This documentary follows their fight to reclaim their sacred land, The Black Hills. Taken from them by unfair treaties and colonization. 

When HBO's The Watchmen aired in 2019, that was the first time many American citizens had heard about the Tulsa massacre of 1921. An ugly, but true story in our history. How was such an act not being taught in every history class before? I imagine after watching Lakota Nation vs United States, the same will be for the Lakota 38. The largest "legal" mass execution in U.S history, ordered by Abraham Lincoln in the same week he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. These unspeakable acts still need to be included when learning our nation's history. Everyone deserves to have all the context.

 There are many stories told in this film that are hard to listen to, and that's the point. The indigenous people suffered greatly at the hands of colonization, and they still do because of systemic racism. I grew up in Western North Dakota. There's so many negative stereotypes about reservations that make me cringe in hindsight. How they were casually used in conversations. The clips this doc uses from movies portraying natives shows the same thing; ignorance, racism, and disrespect. Everyone involved in this documentary speaks passionately and knowledgably about the Lakota history and what they fight for today. You can't walk away from this not being inspired by them.

It breaks my heart to hear that elders didn't want to teach their children or grand children their native language for fear they will have it beaten out of them like they did.  That they had to get government approval to have performance a Sundance ritual - a religious ceremony that you know Christians would be up in arms about if they were denied that right.  

I don't want to give the impression this documentary is all gloom and doom. The stories, the poetry, the beautiful score Raven Chacon, there's beauty here too. I hope the Lakota are given back the Black Hills, I hope you give this a watch when you are able, and I wonder if you'll be able to look at Mount Rushmore the same afterwards.

Grade: A


  1. There's a lot of things in American history that we don't know about as it is frustrating to learn about it when you're older as I didn't about what happened in Tulsa back in 1921. For a country that is supposed to be this holier-than-thou and ultimate idea of democracy. We did some horrendous things and it's now coming to light. It took me years to understand why natives don't carry $20 bills and I don't blame them. I knew a bit about these struggles with Native Americans going back to the early 1990s because of Rage Against the Machine. There is some serious shit we need to fix. Make America Great Again my ass. It was never great to begin with.

  2. This just shows how much racism in part of the States and something the powers at be don’t want to have revisited. I watched a great documentary on the abs9lute destruction of that town back in 1921. I am confused though what did Lincoln agree to while he signed the Emancipation?

    1. He agreed to have 38 Dakota men hanged in a mass execution. There's a lot to that story, and again, it's one that's not as widely taught .

  3. Ughh,..It’s Birgit who just wrote

  4. Hey, I said the same thing about Mount Rushmore! I certainly can’t look at those faces the same way again after seeing this.

    1. Right? Like, in the back of my mind I already knew that, but to be reminded of it again. Despite living in ND, I've never ventured into SD to see Mount Rushmore. I'm a bad Dakotan.


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