In the 1880s, after the U. S. Army's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the government continues to push Sioux Indians off their land. In Washington, D.C., Senator Henry Dawes introduces legislation to protect Native Americans rights. In South Dakota, school teacher Elaine Goodale joins Sioux native and Western-educated Dr. Charles Eastman in working with tribe members. Meanwhile, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull refuses to give into mounting government pressures. Written by
Originally began development in 1995 as a two-part miniseries for ABC. See more »
When Charles Eastman is sitting on the floor, you can clearly see that the soles of his boots are made of man made material with a modern tread design, not the smooth leather soles you would expect to see in the nineteenth century. See more »
Colonel James Forsyth:
[to Charles Eastman, after the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek]
We didn't fire first! I swear to Almighty God, we did not fire first.
Chief Red Cloud:
Blue coat... you whites use many weapons against us. Do not have such a bad heart about it. We have always feared your guns the least.
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Everything and everyone involved in this production was presented in such a way as to be a cliché, an unfortunate stereotype of the real events and people this show was based upon. It's really sad because I would have expected so much more from HBO. In past programs they have done such an excellent job of portraying an era, Rome being one very effective example. And it even more of a shame because the book this material is based upon was so thoroughly unique. I read "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" the summer of the year it was published. I was a senior in high school on my way to college and I was really taken aback by it's powerful and intense telling of those years in American history.
The book left such an impression on me. I felt so angry and mistrustful toward the traditional telling of history, or our "not" telling of history that I spend a great deal of time talking with my relatives and grandparents about their recall of native people they had known and worked with.
My paternal grandparents were from Topeka Kansas and my uncle had worked for a number of years at the Bureau Of Land Management, which had reservations as one of it's concern. My uncle eventually told me the reason he left, was he just couldn't deal with the wretchedness of the whole affair. He said the health of the Indians was appalling and that the money they were supposed to be getting never got to whom it should. It finally depressed him so much he transferred to another area of government. I always remembered my grandfather, who was not a wealthy man, donated much money to what he used to call "The Indian Missions". They were always sending him Christian paraphernalia as thank yous, which he kept in special alcoves and shelves in his bedroom. To my child's mind they were magnificently beautiful... most of them were plastic and many lit up in the dark. I used to sleep in that room when we visited in the summers. He always had a special place in his heart for the mission people, and since he was a really kind and generous man, I realized they must be too. In those days Indians were still outsiders and while my own family may have thought otherwise, many of the people who lived in that part of the country regarded anyone who was not white as sub-human. I never got to ask my grandparents about the Indians because they were dead by the time I read this book and got curious.
Anyway, that is all a tangent story. The fact remains that this production falls way short of the base material and is an HBO flop as far as I'm concerned. Maybe they should have made it a full fledged mini series and explored the richness of the characters further, particularly the Ghost Dancer, because it's a gripping story well worth big attention.
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