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"We Shall Remain" is a five-part series by Ric Burns (Ken's brother) on
the history of the American Indians from "The American Experience".
However, it should be understood that it is NOT a comprehensive
history. There are many gaps, omissions and most tribes are not
discussed in the shows. This is simply because with five parts, there
just wasn't enough time to do the subject justice.
Part 1 ended with the end of King Philip's War in the 1670s and now picks up again in the years following the American Revolution--a gap of well over a hundred years. In some ways this is rather strange, as I really would have thought that the French-Indian War would have been the subject of an episode and it's only mentioned briefly in this episode. Odd...especially since so many tribes were involved (on both sides) and it did so much to shape the future of life in the Eastern and Midwestern United States for the various tribes.
Part 2 is about Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian tribesman who had something previous tribal leaders lacked...a vision of unity. Instead of continuing to fight the white spread of settlers one tribe at a time, he worked hard to unify the various native nations into a unified force. Then, with the aid of the British, they would establish a free and independent homeland...or that was his plan. Unfortunately, his brother, 'the prophet', was useful in spreading Tecumseh's visions but his visions of white bullets NOT harming his people was a BAD miscalculation. Additionally, the British showed little willingness to really engage the United States....plus the Americans were simply too great in number, too strong and with better technology...and ultimately he and his people were doomed.
Again, like the first episode, this is a quality production throughout. Engaging, fascinating and exquisitely made...this is well worth seeing and a part of history often barely discussed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the advance publicity all over PBS, I learned that there was much
care taken to involve Native Americans in every aspect of the
production. The actors white and Indian do a fine job. Particularly
laudable is Canadian Michael Greyeys as the legendary Tecumseh. In the
first two episodes at least, the sets and costumes seem authentic to
the last feather and musket.
It is with the commentary that the problems start. There is not even the pretense of fairness. Every issue is presented as if the guilt of the white man and of Washington (the city not the man) were a foregone fact. Perhaps this is why not one single recognized American historian appears on the program--thus far, at least. The voices are nearly all British or--if I must say it--effeminate. It is one long exercise in political correctness.
It is true that the first two programs deal with events from 200 to 350 years in the past but that is no excuse for the rampant speculation, outright guesswork in many instances, that color the "learned" remarks. This speculation is **all** about the evil white man and the noble Indian. Only the briefest reference in the first episode is made to conflicts between tribes of Native Americans although much is known of them. Instead we get deep "insights" in the psychological suffering of the Shawnees, through much of the second episode.
I look forward to future episodes with trepidation.
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