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We Shall Remain

Documentary and Educational movie directed by Chris Eyre and Sharon Grimberg

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"It is a story at the heart of America..."

  • Jan 31, 2010
We Shall Remain is one of the greatest documentaries I have ever seen. From the stories themselves, to the footage and reenactments, to Benjamin Bratt's narration. I hope schools across the country are playing this for students.

I can't knock a single episode but for me, in some ways the Cherokee installment is The One. Why? Because more than any other, it illustrates the fact that there was nothing any of the tribal peoples here could have done to to work with or appease the US government into letting them survive as Nations on ancestral homelands, culturally entact or not. The Cherokee, as one of the "5 Civilized Tribes" (along with the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee and Seminole), did everything the Americans could have asked and wanted from an indigenous people. For nearly all intents and purposes, the Cherokee become White Americans in all but skin color. They had an alphabet, they owned and worked in American-style businesses, they became owners of black slaves, they adopted American-style government, etc...

No one could have done more to Americanize. No one could have done more to accept the new path being offered them, yet when all was said and done, they were just Indians and would be treated and removed as such.

I've watched every episode several times and it never fails to get to me. Dennis Banks saying he did everything he had to do to be Dennis Banks but inside, Naawakamig never died. What a moment. Then bask in the presence of Madonna Thunder Hawk.

Watching We Shall Remain, I couldn't help but be thankful Ken Burns has never done a big documentary on these general topics, because that may have kept We Shall Remain from beng made at all, which would have been a darned shame. Ken Burns never could have done this.

Even if you're someone who knows the histories, there is a magnificence about We Shall Remain. Some of the comments, some of the narration; these things will burn themselves into your mind.

Still, never let something like this make you believe that American Indian/First Nations/Native American histories are something from long ago. Browse Indian Country Today, find topics that interest you. See another side of today's America.

Some remain. These are stories and truths for all of us.

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Ranked #210
Finally I am busy being born instead of busy dying.
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"Viewers will be amazed." "If you're keeping score, this program ranks among the best TV documentaries ever made." and "Reminds us that true glory lies in the honest histories of people, not the manipulated histories of governments. This is the stuff they kept from us." --Clif Garboden, The Boston Phoenix
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DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
Runtime: 420 minutes
Studio: PBS (Direct)
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