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American Experience - We Shall Remain

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Chris Eyre and Sharon Grimberg

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Release Date: 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about American Experience - We Shall Remain

American Experience: We Shall Remain

  • Jun 25, 2010
Pros: outstanding production covering a riveting piece of history

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
"But comes a time when we will rise again.
Oh Great One, hear our prayers and our song"
 ~written by Mojomike8~

Recently I viewed the 5-part documentary, American Experience: We Shall Remain, which covers the American Indian experience from the Mayflower to their stand-off at Wounded Knee in 1973.  The series is narrated by Benjamin Bratt, a Qechua Indian in addition to being a well known actor.

After The Mayflower
Director: Chris Eyre [Cheyenne/Arapaho]
Writer: Sharon Grimberg
Actors: Marcos Akiaten [Chokonen Chiricahua Apache], Annawon Weeden [Mashpee Wampanoag], Nicholas Irons

In 1621, in Massachusetts, Massasoit [Akiaten], the leader of the Wampanpag, negotiated with a sorry group of white settlers struggling to stay alive.  The Wampanpag were suffering on their own from an illness that had practically wiped out their clan, leaving them vulnerable to the Narragansett tribe.

Forming an alliance with the white settlers, they helped each other through this trying time and remained strong allies.  After regaining their strength and as population increased in the white settlements, the band between the native tribe and the white tribe started to deteriorate. 

Techumseh'a Vision
Director: Ric Burns, Chris Eyre
Writer: Ric Burns
Actors: Michael Greyeyes [Plains Cree] as Tecumseh; Billy Merasty [Cree First Nation] as Tenskwatawa; Dwier Brown as William Henry Harrison

in 1805, Tenskwatawa, the least favored brother of Tecumseh, fell into a coma so deep many thought he had died.  When he awoke he told of visions that drew tribes together for years.  By this time many Native Americans had adopted a loose interpretation of while culture with dress and manners.  Some had even abandoned their religious beliefs. 

Their vision was to create an Indian nation that would co-exist with the while culture, yet be separate of their ways.  They came pretty close of achieving that goal.

Trial of Tears
Director: Chris Eyre
Writer: Mark Zwonitzer
Actors: Wes Studi [Cherokee] as Major Ridge; Freddy Douglas as John Ross; Wesley French [Anishinabek] as John Ridge; Will Finley as Elias Boudinot; Carla-Rae Holland [Seneca/Mohawk] as Suzanna Ridge

And so it begins.

May 26, 1838, the soldiers round up the Cherokee and drive them from their land, forcing them west to Oklahoma.  Over 4,000 died along the way.  All this despite the fact they had a ruling government in their nation, similar to European culture, and had adopted white education.  Their leader, John Ross, took their pleas to the Supreme Court.  Despite winning their case, President Jackson drove them out anyway.

Director/writer: Sarah Colt; Dustinn Craig [White Mountain Apache/Navajo]

in 1909, as Geronimo lay on his deathbed, he whispered he should have never surrendered and fought until he was the last man alive.  He was born a free man in the 1820's, growing to be a warrior and healer.  He fought all his life to let his people remain free on the lands they had been born on.  He died in captivity.
As countless Native Americans bowed to the white culture, Geromino and his small band of Chiricahuas held out resistence, the final force to fall to the American government.

Wounded Knee
Director: Stanley Nelson
Writer: Marcia Smith

February 27, 1973, a group of over 200 Oglala Lakota and others from the American Indian Movement, took over the buildings on the Pine Ridge Reservation that housed the memorial to Wounded Knee.

Their goal was to settle some old grievances and to try to get tribe leader Dick Wilson taken from office.  Wilson was corrupt and treated his fellow people harshly.

Neither was accomplished.

Wounded Knee Memorial is dedicated to the massacre on December 28, 1890,  by the 7th Calvary under the lead of Major Samuel Whitside, that killed over 350 peaceful, unarmed, Lakota tribe members consisting mainly of women, children, and elderly warriors.

Overall impression
I read several comments on different sites about this film.  Some, most, said it was too much "poor, poor Indian - bad white guy".  Some stated that although there were plenty of comments and interviews from the Native American people, there were no statements from the white government culture, feeling it is biased.

What would they say?  What could they say?  It was the Indian's fault they lived on this land first?  It was their land and we deemed it our right to take it away and gather them into little groups, forcing our beliefs on them? 

We lied to them, we cheated them, and when all else failed, we killed them.  We had no right, this was their home and we invaded it.   The very oppression we left Europe to avoid we dumped on this culture.

I am silent with guilt and shame.

My thanks to Mona for adding this to the database


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